In the wake of a suspended NBA season, the Boston Celtics share one thing in common with the rest of the NBA: what could have been this season?
The NBA has officially suspended the rest of the season and has gone into a hiatus until further notice due to the Coronavirus epidemic. Teams, along with their facilities, are now being quarantined and sending their players home. If the NBA were to fast forward to the playoffs after their hiatus, where would the Boston Celtics find themselves among the Eastern Conference?
To start, it’s important to look at the wording of the NBA’s statement in regards to the suspension of the season. The league referred to it as a “hiatus” which is a temporary pause in something and is subject to/for a return. It leads me to believe that the NBA season could pick up again, starting right in the playoffs with the top 16 teams.
The Boston Celtics clinched their playoff birth for the sixth time in the Brad Stevens Era on Tuesday night with their 114-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers. As it stands right now, if the hiatus was to end and the playoffs were to begin, the Celtics’ 43-21 record would be good for the three-seed in the playoffs, which would give them a first-round matchup against the sixth-seed Philadelphia 76ers.
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The third-seed in the playoffs is exactly what the Boston Celtics were hoping to avoid as the road to the Eastern Conference Finals is far more challenging as the third seed rather than the second seed. It would also include avoiding the Milwaukee Bucks for as long as possible. Unfortunately, we will never know if the C’s would have been able to top the Toronto Raptors and climb up into the second seed. It’s worth mentioning the C’s and Raptors were scheduled to face off one more time before the actual end of the regular season.
The Celtics could definitely hold their own in a series against the 76ers, but it wouldn’t be easy by any means. Despite all the drama and injuries surrounding the 76ers this season, they do have an impressive 29-2 record at home this season. The 76ers are also one of the tallest teams in the NBA, which the Boston Celtics have struggled to match up with this season. The C’s would need their entire roster to be 100 percent healthy to get through the playoffs as the three-seed.
If the Celtics were able to get by the 76ers in the first round, that would more than likely give them a second-round matchup against the surging Raptors, who have completely exceeded expectations this season without Kawhi Leonard. The two teams have played each other three times during the regular season and the Celtics have come out victorious in two of those games.
Although the Celtics have defeated the Raptors twice this season, they are still the toughest opponent the C’s have gone to battle with in the East. From the starters to the bench, everyone on the Raptors are incredibly productive, efficient, and play as a true and complete team. Considering the way the Celtics have struggled to finish and close out games this season, it would be difficult to face the Raptors in the second-round and come out victorious.
If the Celtics were able to scrape by the Raptors in the second round, that would then lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals, which we all seem to believe would be against the Bucks, and the outcome of that series would be unknown. Just like the Raptors, the Bucks have an even more overall proficient and effective complete team that know their roles and have won a league-high 53 games this season.
In a season that was full of hope and optimism for the Boston Celtics, they now share one thing in common with the rest of the NBA: pondering what could have been (and what may yet be) in the 2019-2020 NBA season.