2016-17 NBA Weekly Recap: Celtics
Since the conclusion of the All Star break, the playoff picture has been coming into focus for much of the Eastern Conference. The "Pretenders" are starting to be filtered out towards the bottom of the playoff seeding and teams can begin to think about their potential first round matchup. We've reached the stage in the season where the Spurs, Wizards, and Cavs all rest their stars every now and then, which has now become tradition. But for the Celtics, a team looking for their first playoff series win since the 2012 season, there's no time to be resting our starters. The C's are currently a game and a half ahead of the Wizards for the #2 seed in the East, and a matchup tonight against Washington could potentially have huge playoff implications.
So how did we get here? After a dismal start to the season, which saw the Celtics battle a string of injuries, Boston started to hit their groove about halfway through the season. With an injury to Kyle Lowry making things more interesting in the East, it's pretty much been a two horse race between the Celtics and Wizards for the 2 spot for the past month or so. Avery Bradley missed 22 games, Horford basically gets injured every other week, Crowder missed some time, and after missing a few games before the All Star break IT is back on the bench now. So for us to be dealing with all of those injuries and still be the #2 seed is a testament to Brad Stevens and his staff. There was a brief moment where, after we beat both the Cavs and Warriors in a week's span, I thought we were going to make a run for the #1 seed. But our ability to play down to our competition has bit us in the ass; we lost to the Suns the night after we beat the Warriors, and we just lost to the Sixers yesterday.
Danny Ainge received a bit of flak for not making any moves at the trade deadline to put us in a better position to compete against Cleveland. But if you read my article I wrote about why the Celtics SHOULDN'T make a move, then you know he made the right decision. We're not trying to contend for a championship this year; it's all about putting ourselves in a favorable position for the draft and Free Agency this summer. Don't be surprised if Ainge pulls the double whammy of drafting a Markelle Fultz or a Lonzo Ball and THEN signing a former Butler star who happens to be a Free Agent (hello Gordon Hayward). Besides, after Bradley's return from missing 22 games, it was like we did make a trade at the deadline by getting him back.
Whether IT plays against Washington after missing 2 games remains to be seen. But I do know one thing, we damn sure aren't about to win if we don't have him. I'm not sure when the Wizards became so legit, but they're an awful matchup for us if we have to face them in the 2nd round. I went to one of their matchups here in DC earlier this season and we got shellacked. The last 12 games of the season are crucial for Boston's playoff chances. Luckily, we have one of the more favorable schedules the rest of the way. The vast majority of our games are at the crib, and we hold it down there.