2 Worst first round playoff scenarios for the Boston Celtics

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Seven
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Seven / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

I recently wrote about what matchups were the best-case scenarios for the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Naturally, that had to be followed by the worst potential matchups for the Cs.

The Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic made the list for best matchups, which leaves two teams that the Celtics would preferably not face off against in the earliest stage of the playoffs.

2 Worst first round playoff scenarios for the Boston Celtics

Indiana Pacers

The Boston Celtics faced the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament. This is a game that made a very good impression of a playoff atmosphere, and the Celtics ended up losing 122-112. As it stands, the Pacers are seventh in the Eastern Conference and would have to go through the Play-In if the season ended today.

The Pacers offence this year has been amazing, as they are the number one scoring team in the entire league. The addition of Pascal Siakam that they made has given them even more power on the offensive side of the ball. Tyrese Haliburton has also taken a huge stride for them this season and can hurt a team in so many ways. 

What makes the Pacers different from the teams that made the best matchup list is that they can beat any team on any given night. Of course, that goes for any NBA game, as nothing is guaranteed, but the Pacers have the ability to outscore any team and steal a couple wins in a playoff series.

They do this with an abundance of players. The Pacers have seven players who average at least 10 points per game. Two of those players, Haliburton and Siakam, can take over games. Others, like Benedict Mathurin and Myles Turner, have the ability to get hot and cause a lot of headaches for opposing defences. They are a deep offensive team that is scary for any team in the league.

Where the Pacers falter is on defence. They have the fifth worst defensive rating in the league and give up the fourth most offensive rebounds per game. For the Celtics, though, if their three point attempts aren’t falling, they risk falling behind to a Pacers team that can score quickly themselves, and that's what makes this matchup scary.

Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are outside of the Play-In bubble as it stands, but they can still fall into it and end up as the eighth seed. This is obviously a team the Celtics, or any team in the NBA, doesn’t want to see in the playoffs. Something about their team changes when the regular season ends, and they become a much-improved version of themselves.

Last season, the Celtics fell to a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals. They almost completed the impossible 3-0 comeback but fell short in game seven. How did they even get down 3-0 in the first place? Well, the Heat did what the Heat do best.

They got hot at the right time and rolled with it to the NBA Finals. It seems unlikely that Caleb Martin will average nearly 20 points in a series against the Cs again, but you truly never know. It wasn’t as if the Celtics thought they would have an easy matchup against the Heat last year; they just turned it on at the right time and are capable of doing so again. 

The Cs can’t be guarded the same way they were last season due to the acquisition and impact of Kristaps Porziņģis, which benefits them greatly in this potential rematch. However, the Heat have new weapons of their own in former Celtics Terry Rozier and rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who has had a great debut season. 

There is also the chance that the Heat hold a psychological edge over the Boston Celtics. Losing to an eighth seed after coming so close to completing a 3-0 comeback to make it to the finals is a big “what if” that the Celtics still think about and dread.