On Sunday night, the Boston Celtics took down the Memphis Grizzlies, and in turn, finished the season as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Imagine saying that out loud to an NBA fan back in January. You probably would have been laughed at. But now, the Celtics are as much of a threat as any team in the NBA.
However, the talk of the town going into the night was ‘who will have to face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs?’. Well, if the Nets win their Play-In game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, that team will be the Celtics.
Boston got bounced by Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs last year, but this time around, things project obe very different. Instead of being the underdog, the Celtics will have homecourt advantage this time around, and more importantly, Jaylen Brown is healthy. Both Jayson Tatum and Brown will be revved up and ready to go for Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.
In the locker room after their win over Memphis, Brown had some strong words for his teammates, hyping them up heading into the postseason. “No matter who we match up with, I’ll take us versus anybody. Let’s go,” he said. Evidently, the Celtics don’t care who they face in the first round.
And with the Celtics have played throughout the second half of the season, it’s hard not to agree with Brown. Since the start of 2022, they’ve been the best team in the league.
Celtics Stats Since the New Year
Let’s take a look at some stats since the new year began and where the Celtics rank:
- .739 win percentage (3rd in NBA, 1st in Eastern Conference)
- 48.5 field goal percentage (3rd in NBA, 1st in Eastern Conference)
- 37.5 three-point percentage (3rd in NBA, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
- 105.2 defensive rating (1st in NBA)
- 117.9 offensive rating (2nd in NBA, 1st in Eastern Conference)
- 12.7 net rating (1st in NBA)
So to recap, Boston has had the best defense in the NBA, is a top-two offense, is shooting the best in the East, and has the best winning percentage of any team in the Eastern Conference since the start of January. That sounds like the makings of a pretty good basketball team.
Brown is supremely confident in Boston’s chances in the NBA Playoffs, and with numbers like that to back him up, it’s difficult to disagree. From a statistical perspective, Boston should be the favorite to win the East. And Brown isn’t the only one who’s confident, as two of his teammates — Marcus Smart and Payton Pritchard — echoed his beliefs.
Smart and Pritchard Confident in Celtics
After Boston’s win over Memphis, Smart was asked who he would rather face in the first round of the playoffs, the Nets or the Cavaliers. Smart kept it simple with his response, which backed up Brown’s beliefs about this Celtics squad:
“No, we don’t. Everybody is good, everybody is trying to get one goal. You’re going to have to play somebody sooner or later, so we might as well get ready and get it out of the way.”
During his postgame press conference, Pritchard made a similar statement, declaring that the Celtics are “not trying to dodge anybody.” Pritchard kept saying, “we’re ready” over and over again. That, combined with Brown’s and Smart’s comments, portray an obscene amount of confidence on the side of the Celtics.
With their playoff opponent still up in the air, it seems as though the Celtics don’t care who they face. All they want to do is win, and no matter who they end up facing off against in Round 1, they’ll be ready.