Don’t look now but the Boston Celtics have found themselves in a three way tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Chicago Bulls got blown out by the Sacramento Kings last night, while both the Atlanta Hawks and Celtics won their games. Because Boston owns the tie-breaker, they currently lead Atlanta, and the same can be said for the Bulls, who lead the Celtics and Hawks. Honestly, who would have thought that Boston would be mentioned in getting a higher seed without All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo? The Celtics have really put it together the last two months, and their reward is a shot at snatching the fourth spot in the East to have home court in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Brooklyn Nets currently sit in the fourth spot, two and a half games up on Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta. As I’ve stated before, I’m not sold on the Nets just yet as they’ve proved nothing so far and their depth is still a question heading into the playoffs. Ahead of the Nets is the injury stricken New York Knicks, who are slowly falling apart in front of our eyes. The Knicks have a game and a half lead on Brooklyn, and four games ahead of Boston. While getting the fourth seed should be the Celtics primary goal, they have an opportunity to steal the top spot in the Atlantic Division if they finish the season strong. Hypothetically, if Boston seizes the third seed in the East, they avoid playing the Miami Heat until the Eastern Conference Championship series, but will have to face the Indiana Pacers in the Semi-Finals.
The Celtics have a difficult schedule remaining, but the door is wide open for them to win their sixth straight division title. Boston faces New York two more times before the end of the season, and if the Knicks struggles continue, those two games could be critical in the Celtics quest to regain the throne in the division. They also take on the Brooklyn Nets one more time later in April. One thing is certain about that game, no one will be resting their starters. If it comes down to the wire, that showdown has significant importance, not just for Boston, but for Brooklyn as well.
Right now the Boston Celtics can beat anyone. Next Monday when the Miami Heat come to town, the results from that game will tell us a lot about the Celtics and how they manage playing against a championship caliber team. Boston must dominate the game to send a message to the league and the Miami Heat. Teams are afraid to play Boston, they have the playoff experience, veteran leadership, and determination to pull off some major upsets in this year’s playoffs. But first, Boston needs to take care of business and take the third or fourth spot in the East before we can even think about them having a chance against the Heat. This team has an opportunity to do something special and they’ve already started making that last magical run to glory one more time.