With the Celtics recent run of unispired play, culminating in last night’s loss at home to the average Memphis Grizzlies, is there cause for concern among Celtics Nation? No! And… Yes! Let’s look at why both answers are correct:
Remember last year when the Celtics closed the season horribly, actually finishing with a 27-27 record over their last 54 games? Everyone, including myself freaked out and wrote them off. However, they proved us all wrong by making an incredible run through two of the four best teams in the league (Cleveland, Orlando), then pushed the Lakers to a very close Game 7 in the NBA Finals. There is no doubt that the Celtics will show up in the playoffs hungry and ready to play. They will play their best basketball in the playoffs. They are simply at an inevitable point in their season when they only motivate themselves for “big” games, like the win in NY over the Knicks a few nights back. They are veterans who know they need to rest a bit physically AND mentally before the playoffs. They’ll be ready to ball when it counts.
All that said, I’m not so sure they will be able to advance through the playoffs without getting the #1 seed. If the playoffs started today, they would have to go through the Knicks, the Heat, then the Bulls just to make it to the Finals against a tough team from the West. That’s a murderer’s row of teams right there folks. If they were to get the #1 seed, however, they’d get Indiana, Orlando, and the winner of a 2nd round Bulls/Heat match-up. A much easier road, especially since they would get to avoid either the Heat or the Bulls.
Thier primary concern now seems to be getting healthy physically and mentally for the playoffs. Will they be ready to bring it? Absolutely. But so will four or five other Championship-caliber teams, and the Celtics will have to play almost all of them.