Post-game Reactions

With just four days remaining in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting  to take shape for the C’s. After a loss by the Orlando Magic last night, the Celts can officially pencil in the Atlanta Hawks as their first round opponent, a likelihood we had all counted on in recent days.

From there, the news is even better after the Hawks dropped one at home to the Knicks yesterday. That loss keeps the door open for Boston to finish ahead of Atlanta in the standings, earning home court advantage along with it. All this comes after Doc Rivers punted on an opportunity to help cement home court for his team Friday night in Atlanta (a decision I fully agreed with, by the way).

Atlanta currently remains a full game ahead of Boston in the East with two games remaining for both teams. After winning the season series 2-1, Boston holds the tiebreaker. Here are what the two teams have left on their schedule, with both games coming on Tuesday and Thursday night respectively:

Boston: vs. Miami, vs. Milwaukee
Atlanta: vs. LA Clippers, vs. Dallas

On the surface, the C’s look like they have a tougher slate remaining, simply due to the Heat matchup. However, a closer inspection of Miami shows us that they have nothing to play for at this juncture as they’re firmly locked into the number two seed in the East. Dwayne Wade will not play for the remainder of the regular season after dislocating his finger Saturday night and LeBron James hinted to reporters he could “use the rest” when asked if he’d suit up for the team’s final two contests. With Chris Bosh also sidelined due to leg fatigue, a B-squad C’s team may be enough to defeat a JV Heat team with nothing to play for. 

It will be interesting to see how Doc approaches this stretch with his core guys. The trainers will dictate whether Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen or Mickael Pietrus (I doubt we see the latter two before the playoffs) will see the floor, but with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, I have a hard time seeing them both sit out after five days of rest. Sitting out a week and a half doesn’t seem to be ideal for either guy as far as rust purposes go. Having both guys going through a limited workload (think 15-20 minutes before being shut down in second half) should be enough for Boston in one or perhaps both of these upcoming contests if Doc and company are actually pursuing home court edge in the first round.

Meanwhile, Atlanta still has to drop at least one game in order for the Celtics to have a shot at catching them. And while two games at home await, those contests will be against opponents still jockeying for playoff position. The Clippers are duking it out for the third seed with their cross-city rivals, so it’s unlikely they will relinquish the chance to avoid a first round matchup with the dangerous Grizzlies.

To the same effect, Dallas is still in the running for the sixth seed in the Western Conference, a pretty enticing spot considering it will enable them to avoid a first round showdown with the Thunder or Spurs. Dallas currently stands a 1/2 game behind the Nuggets (who have two games left to play) but the Mavs own the tiebreaker, so there will be something for them to play for against the Hawks Thursday no matter what happens before then. Combine that, with a full four days of rest for Dallas before that contest (they played last Saturday night in Chicago) and I get the feeling Dallas will have a full roster ready for action at Phillips Arena.

Put all of these circumstances together and I’d say there is better than a 50-50 chance that the Hawks lose one of these two games against motivated opposition. 0-2 is not out of the question for Atlanta either.  The door is still open for Boston to swoop in for home court advantage in the first round and if it doesn’t cost the roster anything major in terms of health and rest, it’s hard not to see Doc playing Pierce and Garnett just enough to ensure a couple wins.


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Brian Robb

Brian Robb co-founded CelticsHub in 2009 and is the currently editor-in-chief. He is a producer and reporter at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and also contributes to Boston.com and Bleacher Report among other outlets.
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  • michaelmarlow

    I don't know, I just took it for granted Pierce and KG would not play the final two games. Doesn't mean they are not winnable, especially being at home, but I guess we'll see soon enough!

  • CelticsBIG3

    There is nothing wrong with them playing first half minutes against those teams, if for no other reason then to break out the preverbial "WD-40 can" to keep the rust off.

  • BrianRobbStinks

    Brian Robb doesn't write well and consistently makes many mistakes. He should fire himself.

    • noche

      Someone a little upset their application got rejected after Zach left?

  • ElRoz

    I was thinking the same thing after Atlanta lost to NY. Interesting that the Hawks next game – Tuesday when Boston plays Miami – starts 30 minutes prior to Boston's…so maybe Doc can monitor the score.

    Another issue – perhaps a minor one? – is that Atlanta's three key guys (Smith, Johnson, Teague) all have played more minutes than any Boston's key guys, including Bass (see ESPN Stats for Total Minutes Played)
    Johnson, Smith, and Teague – all have played 2 games recently while the main four Boston's guys rested.
    I feel it gives Boston that additional, albeit small, advantage but I am conflicted if it is better to utterly rest KG, Pierce,Rondo or to have them play last two games? I think the Bucks are going to fight and be professional about it…it will be a full game I think, so at leats the last game will be a full one.

    All in all, it is tempting to get that homecourt after all.

  • Tha_Curtlandish

    When Boston made their championship run in 2008, home court was crucial. But I think there's a been a paradigm shift league-wide in more recent years. It seems like if you're the away team and you can sneak in and steal one of those first two games, it puts you in a fairly favorable position going forward (think the C's most recent run to the Finals, when they were underdogs). I don't know what to prefer though, since a game 7 at home would be ideal. I think I'm totally ambivalent on the home court issue.

  • Tha_Curtlandish

    That paradigm shift is about pressure. Home teams feel it's imperative to take care of business and win both, putting a lot of pressure on themselves. Road teams – especially savvy ones like Boston – know how to seize that pressure, steal a game and momentum, and shift the leverage of the whole series.

  • janos

    Hi Bryan, is Janos
    I come check site couple times on weekend, but know you all busy get ready for playoff. Can you make post on Hawk player, I am not know all . Also schedule for game, location round is help. I dont see Celtics lose game until, round 2.

  • Lantrell Walker

    Home court is always nice to have, but it honestly wouldn't bother me one bit if the C's didn't get it. The health of the Big 4 & our key players is obviously more important in the long run, so I wouldn't mind not seeing Rondo and company not play again until this weekend. Besides, there's nothing that life on the road can throw at the C's that they haven't seen before. This team has won many big games on the road in the past.
    Remember the 2010 playoffs, the C's walked into the lion's den & walked out many times victorious. This team is tested, tried & hungry and there's nothing they love more than going into someone else's building & making it their own.


  • CG12

    Home court would be nice, but the Cs shouldn't deviate from their practice of balancing rest with getting enough minutes to keep a rhythm. You will see some of the major players sit completely and others play reduced minutes early in games, while the bench carries the load in the second half. If it works out, great, if not, no big deal.

  • CelticsFaninLA

    You know who wants home court more than anyone else?

    Celtic Shareholders!! Management, stadium, parking, etc want home court = MORE $$$$ (potentially)

    • noche

      Which would matter if the series went to 7 games. I'm thinking the Celtics feel they can take care of business in 5 or 6. If it goes 7 games and the Celtics lose at home is it better for management or worse for management than if they win in 7 games in Atlanta and bring the second round to Boston for 3 more games?

      I think management takes winning the first round and revenues from home games in the second round over home court against the Hawks. Just sayin'.

  • Jman

    Homecourt means nothing this year for if they can't beat the Hawks without homecourt, then how are they going to beat Miami or Chicago definetely without HC….So it means nothing…However, The starters need to play these next two games in order to keep rhthym I feel. Limited play time though but with normal rotations so they still are connected with one another. For example KG only plays 2.5 mins instead of the 5 min rotations and still plays 2nd quarter with the normal secondary unit t with limited minutes. Pierce and Rondo only play 5 min quarters instead of their normal 1 and 3 full quarter play and 6 min 3 & 4 quarter plays. Doc's problem in the orlando and NY game was that he did not stikc to his normal rotation and players and screwed everyone up I feel. Just play the guys minimal time that's all…lol

  • Anthony

    Everybody makes good points but all the guys can use the extra rest.

    * Pierce's toe
    * Rondo's back
    * MP's concussion
    * Ray's ankle
    * Stiemsma's assorted injuries
    * And it was obvious that KG was laboring a bit in the ORL and NY game. A team with a healthy KG just doesn't give up 98 to a team missing it's leading scorer and 118 to any team period.

    Our 2nd unit should be able to beat the Miami D-Leaguers and a Milwaukee team that has nothing to play for. They can't stop AB, they can only hope to contain him. New career high anyone?

    Don't want to get ahead of myself but what should the Celts do in the off-season now that AB has cemented a starting role? I assume they would still try to re-sign Ray. Do they still try to go after Gordon or Mayo? Do they still draft Austin Rivers if he's available?

  • yeah

    I would love to see Avery Bradley train young Austin Rivers lol. It would be like that one episode of Pawn Stars where Chumlee hired an "apprentice"

    Agreed though I don't think we need to go after Eric Gordon now. Nor Mayo. I really really really want Ray Allen to stay and be our 6th man. Why should he go be the 6th man anywhere else?

    I'm under the impression that Hibbert is going to be our main target. I don't know much about his attitude (humility is everything, remember?) but he seems mellow as far as I'm aware. Just the guy we need. I would be so happy if this team forever continues to be all about good players that are NOT "superstars." The hype is just such a turnoff. Of course, if we were to /build/ a superstar, that's different. But I WOULD take Roy Hibbert over Dwight Howard for this team. I can't believe how much the guy publicly complains about his team when things are awry – let alone all these "impeach Stan" rumors.