How will the Boston Celtics fare in their final two regular-season bubble games now that their seeding has been decided?
The sprint of a final eight regular-season games is reaching its conclusion for the Boston Celtics and the 21 other teams invited to the Lake Buena Vista bubble in Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports complex.
Boston started out 1-2 with lifeless halves of basketball being their undoing–and in the case of their matchup with the Portland Trailblazers, an almost undoing–but have since rebounded with strong wins against the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, and Orlando Magic.
The Toronto Raptors won enough in the bubble thus far to secure their spot as the #2 seed in the conference for a second straight season. The Miami Heat have stumbled enough to allow the C’s strong start propel them to the #3 seed. Indiana could end up being the #4 seed depending on the final three games.
But all things considered, the final two games are not must-win for the Celtics. Does that mean they will let up on the gas pedal in their matchups against the fading Memphis Grizzlies and mathematically eliminated Washington Wizards?
That question will be answered when the injury reports are released for each game. It’s hard to tell just who will be available on these dog days of summer nights. We can probably scratch Walker against the Wizards. He may even be out against Memphis.
That said, much of the rest of the team will probably be in uniform at least against the Grizzlies, especially considering the stakes of every game for teams seeded #8-11 in the Western Conference.
Brad Stevens isn’t likely to make enemies against other teams down in the bubble by compromising the integrity of these games. Assuming all of that, here’s how the teams match up against their final two opponents:
It has been a rough go so far for the Memphis Grizzlies in the Lake Buena Vista bubble. So far, they have lost critical matchups against fellow #8 seed chasers in Portland, San Antonio, and New Orleans (who have since been eliminated).
They finally notched a win in Walt Disney World against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday but followed that up with a loss to Toronto on Sunday. Now, they look to hold their ground in a matchup with a C’s team that lacks standings motivation.
This one will come down to the C’s bench being competent in the minutes it has given. In particular, if Enes Kanter and Robert Williams can win their minutes against a Memphis frontcourt missing Jarren Jackson Jr., Boston should be able to send the Grizzlies into a continued tailspin.
That said, the more likely result is a face-saving win for a Grizzlies team with more to play for.
Unlike the matchup with the Grizzlies, the Boston Celtics face a Wizards team in their final regular-season matchup with nothing left to play for. After being without John Wall for the entire season and then playing in the bubble without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, the Wizards became the first team eliminated to the bubble and have even slipped past the Charlotte Hornets in the standings.
In many ways, that has made the bubble a success for Washington, who have been able to assess the talent they have on their roster. Troy Brown, Rui Hachimara and Thomas Bryant all seem capable of handling supporting roles instead of the starring roles they have now.
Ultimately, a loss will benefit them more than a win. The Celtics can stand to have a higher number in the 2019-20 win column, and the opposite is true for Washington. Based on that premise, the C’s should have a more energized bunch–no matter who is on the floor at any given time–with eyes on the postseason.
Houdini’s final prediction: 1-1