With 24 games remaining in the regular season for the Boston Celtics, time is running out if they want to enter the playoffs as divisional champions. The Celtics are currently five games behind the New York Knicks for first in the Atlantic Division, and are only two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for second. Realistically, what are the chances that Boston can win their sixth consecutive divisional title? With only a month and a half left in the season, the Celtics would have their work cut out for them, and it certainly wouldn’t be an easy task.
Boston faces New York two more times before the playoffs begin, both teams having one game at home. The Celtics don’t have the easiest schedule by any stretch, but if they can string together a few winning streaks, there is a possibility that they can catch the Knicks, provided New York loses a few games. Boston faces the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, and Memphis Grizzlies, all of whom are playoff and or championship contending teams, in the month of March. For the Celtics, this is a make or break month. Not only do they have a chance at getting the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but Boston can also avoid playing Miami, New York, or Indiana in the first round if they finish the regular season strong.
The level of competition does ease in April, but the Celtics have to face Miami, Indiana, and Brooklyn one more time. Even if Boston doesn’t finish first in the division, the remaining games this season are a big test to see how the Celtics matchup against other playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, before too much optimism and hope sets in, the New York Knicks have to do their part and lose games. The Knicks remaining schedule is no walk in the park either, and they face some of the most elite teams in the Western Conference before the season ends. New York faces the Oklahoma City Thunder two more times, the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Memphis Grizzlies. But it doesn’t stop there. They take on the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.
The time is now for Boston to make a run. While both teams have tough schedules down the stretch, the opportunity for the Celtics to steal the division away from the Knicks is there. They’ve played better as of late, and Boston has been known to flip the switch when they want to. The chances at both a division and championship title are still there, but it all starts now. The Celtics either capitalize now, or face a difficult road ahead of them as they attempt to get far in the playoffs and possibly, but unlikely, return to the NBA Finals.