Celtics Eyeing This Favorable Matchup for Postseason’s First Round

Jaylen Brown and the Celtics could land a favorable playoff matchup

Getty Jaylen Brown and the Celtics could land a favorable playoff matchup

The Celtics sealed their spot as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with their ugly win over the Magic and now can only sit back and see how the three remaining games for the Sixers, Pacers and Heat play out before the NBA playoffs begin next week. Philadelphia is currently the No. 6 seed in the conference, trailing both Miami and Indiana by a game, which essentially amounts to a two-game deficit because the Heat and Pacers hold tiebreakers over Philly.

The chances are good, then, that the Sixers will be Boston’s first-round opponent. That would be just fine with the Celtics.

The Sixers have been, arguably, the most disappointing team in the NBA this season, having spent big money in the offseason to keep Tobias Harris and bring in Al Horford to go with their young core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. But Horford proved to be a poor fit and the team lacked chemistry all season.

Worse, Simmons suffered a dislocated kneecap last week and will have surgery that will force him out of the rest of the NBA’s restart. Worse still, on Sunday, Embiid left the Sixers’ loss to Portland with an ankle injury.

Coach Brett Brown was left trying to explain how he can find a way to bring his players along, get them ready for the playoffs and keep them healthy at the same time. So far it has not gone well.

“I think it’s true for everybody where you want an honest medical assessment of anything that equals a potential problem, you just want to avoid,” Brown told reporters after the loss to the Blazers. “Landing the plane, entering the playoffs from this vision line of a bubble and time off and tip-toeing on pins and needles where you don’t want people to get injured and still find a rhythm, that’s a slippery slope.”

Celtics Lost Three of Four to Sixers This Season

The Celtics did struggle against Philadelphia this year, including in the season opener when Simmons put up 24 points. The Sixers won three of the four games the two teams played this year. Boston did have luck keeping Embiid under wraps, holding him to 21.3 points on just 39.1% shooting in the four games.

Boston won the most recent meeting between the teams, in February at TD Garden. In that one, Jaylen Brown went for 32 points and Jayson Tatum added 25.

The Celtics held Philadelphia to 36.9% shooting in that game, 21.2% from the 3-point line.

Celtics Have Chance to Rest Starters–A Little

Offensively, the Celtics have been clicking during the NBA restart. They’re averaging 123.2 points per game, fourth among the teams in Orlando and their offensive rating, 119.2 points per 100 possessions, ranks second. The defense has been solid, too, with a rating of 109.9. That’s ninth among the 22 teams in the NBA bubble.

Having their seeding set will allow Brad Stevens to use the remaining two games—against Memphis and Washington—to rest up his starters ahead of next week’s playoffs. But Stevens won’t be giving them off days altogether.

“You obviously want to have great health, but conditioning is a great part of that, so we want all of our primary guys to play at least two more times out of three,” Stevens said according to the Boston Herald. “All of our sports science people and everybody else feels a full week in between games is enough – certainly don’t want more than that. We play our guys, nothing is set in stone yet, that’s the way we’re going to approach it.”

Good health would be a boon for the Celtics. It is already a problem for the Sixers—and that makes them a welcome first-round foe.

READ NEXT: Yes, There is a Tomato That Looks Just LIke Larry Bird & the Internet Loves It

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments