Apr 2, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards guard Andre Miller (24) in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 118-92 and qualified for the NBA playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics Look To Play Spoiler Against The Atlanta Hawks Tonight

Dream a little dream . . . . Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Think the Boston Celtics have nothing left to play for with only five games remaining on their 2013-2014 NBA regular season schedule?

Think again!

See that photo of Rajon Rondo at the top of this post?  Know what he’s thinking in that snapshot?  Let me tell you:

Hopefully we can mess up Atlanta’s record a little bit more tomorrow and knock those guys out of the playoffs.

Ahh – dreaming about ruining another team’s dreams!  Perfect.

So yes, the Boston Celtics would like to be the sort of team who messes with a team like Atlanta’s playoff chances – and I’m okay with this.  As I’ve been saying for over a month, the Boston Celtics are about winning.  Whether it’s winning playoff series, winning championships,  or winning even when they’re losing , the Celtics have a culture of winning.  This culture must be taught to every player who joins the fraternity that is the Boston Celtics, so even if the Celtics find themselves 1-80 heading into their final game of the season, I expect to see them take the court and play as if it’s game 7 of the NBA Finals.   The minute the guys in the locker room believe there is nothing worth playing for, you might as well ship them out and start fresh.

Which is why I love to hear Jared Sullinger say, “It’s beautiful to know that you possibly have a chance to spoil somebody’s playoff contention.”  Atta boy!

As usual, I am most interested in the following storylines:

How Much Will Rajon Rondo Look Like Rajon Rondo?

Last Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rondo notched his first triple-double since returning from his knee injury.  Rondo is only shooting 39.4% from the floor this season, which is by far the worst percentage of his career.  Certain parts of his offense have come back a bit more slowly than he envisioned, but hopefully these final five games allow him to iron out a few more kinks before we lose him to the offseason.

The Continued Development of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk

I like both of these guys, and feel good about the future of the Boston Celtics with them on board.  They will benefit greatly from two three things: a true center; time spent playing over the summer; and as much playing time as coach Brad Stevens can give them over the final five games.  If only Sully would stop jacking up threes and realize Olynyk has a better chance of stretching the defense out that far than he does.

 The Futures of Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless

Two months ago, I was convinced that the Boston Celtics would re-sign Bradley and cut ties with Bayless during the offseason.  Now?  Hmmm.  I still like Bradley and his ability to pressure the ball, and I want to see him remain a member of the  Celtics . . . but the way Bayless has been playing as of late, it’s hard to envision him being the one that Boston parts ways with if the team decides it cannot keep both of these guards.  Bradley’s offense has improved this year, but with Bayless the Celtics have a bit more flexibility, in that he can score and handle the rock/run the offense.  If Bayless can provide 15+ points of offense per game the rest of the season and run the offense effectively when Rondo is off the floor, he’ll make things mighty interesting in Titletown.

Tonight’s game is set to tip-off at 7:30.  Follow us @HoudiniCeltics as we get ready to close out the regular season strong!


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