Earlier today it was reported by Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that the Celtics wouldn’t be playing any of the big four versus the Atlanta Hawks tonight. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen did not travel with the team to Atlanta and Doc Rivers said he will likely sit Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
This move seemed rather odd to me because, of course, Boston is the four seed and Atlanta is the five seed. Atlanta currently has homecourt advantage over the Celtics with a 37 and 25 record while the C’s sit at 37 and 26. In the NBA, seeding does not determine homecourt advantage in the seven game series. It is determined by the two teams records instead. In other words, if Boston finishes the season with a worse record than the Hawks they won’t have homecourt advantage throughout the postseason barring any upsets to Miami, Chicago and Indiana.
I thought that the move showed a confidence about Boston that not many other teams have. This club is 15 and 17 on the road for the year, and that record could get worse after tonight. They are resting their starters against the team that they will likely see in the postseason. It’s a potentially huge gamble to possibly surrender homecourt to the Hawks.
This team is coming off of an 11 game stretch, including a back to back to back, in 15 days. They obviously need the rest, but the question is why tonight? Doc is confident in his squad and their postseason experience. He knows that they’ll keep their composure when in the playoffs just as they always have. Its a different ball game when you get there. What this move shows us is the confidence that Doc has in his squad and how little he is worried about the Atlanta Hawks.
What worries me, though, is how some of the Celtics will react to their first taste of real postseason action–Avery Bradley in particular. He has veterans that are long in the tooth to keep him grounded, and he’s seen how its done before. He knows the history of the Celtics and knows what is expected of him, but again, its going to be different once he hits the floor. Will he be able to keep a cool head about him? The same should be asked about Greg Steimsma. They are the glue to Boston’s success and they’ll need to play consistent in their rolls for Boston to have a chance at the Larry O’Brien in June.
It’ll be interesting to see how this scenario plays out for the Celtics. I have confidence in the team though, and a little rest sure wouldn’t hurt here. Especially when you have key players like Rondo and Allen nursing injuries–you want to go into the post season as healthy as can be. Otherwise you’ll be knocked out anyway.