Number 1 Seed Slipping Away For Celtics
Last night, the Celtics’ loss to the Wizards was shocking, especially after Washington played without two of its best players, Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. Boston, however, did not bring their A-game, and their sloppy play was evident throughout the game. So much so that head coach Joe Mazzulla began taking his starters out of the game with 9 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Although the loss is extremely disappointing, the Celtics still have a chance at the No.1 seed in the East. However, they pretty much need to win all their remaining games, including the matchup against the Bucks tomorrow night. If the Celtics fail to beat the Bucks, their chances of securing home-court advantage are basically zero.
Is The 1 Seed Even Worth It?
The Celtics have had an up-and-down season. And while many are fixated on the race for the top seed and beating the Bucks, it might not be the best move for Boston to prioritize that. Here’s why the Celtics should focus on playing better basketball before the start of the playoffs rather than aiming for the #1 seed.
Health, Rest, & Recovery
With the playoffs around the corner, it’s important to make sure the team is ready to go come round one. The Celtics have been dealing with nagging injuries to several key players over the course of the season, including Jayson Tatum, Malcolm Brogdon, Al Horford, and Robert Williams. You simply don’t want to risk losing a key piece of the roster right before the first round. Also, playing extra games to chase the first seed may increase the risk of fatigue, which will eventually show itself during a long playoff run.
Winning In The Playoffs Is What Matters
While securing the first seed guarantees home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, it doesn’t guarantee success. The Celtics have proven to be resilient in the playoffs and are more than capable of winning games on the road. For example, just last season, they won a pivotal game-six in Milwaukee to help advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. And in the very next round, they won a thrilling game 7 on the road in Miami… Focus on what truly matters.
Improvement is More Important Than Seeding
Now is the time for the Celtics to focus on better basketball. That means addressing weaknesses, working on their chemistry, and solidifying their rotation. Seeding might be important, but improvement is crucial. A #1 seed won’t matter much if they’re not playing to their potential when it counts. The Celtics have a lot of talent, but they must play better as a team, or they won’t reach their goals this season.
Matchups Are Unpredictable
Even if the Celtics get the #1 seed, it’s not guaranteed they’ll get easy matchups in the first two rounds. The playoffs are unpredictable, and anything can happen. Sometimes, the team that appears to have an easier path ends up facing more difficulties than expected. The reverse is also true. All teams in the playoffs are there for a reason, and each series will have its own challenges.
The Playoff Mentality
In the playoffs, every possession counts, and the Celtics need to be able to keep their heads up and fight until the last second. We’ve seen it all year where they’ve lost games after holding double-digit leads, which indicates a lack of focus on the court. It’s time to start getting in the mindset of closing games out, especially against tough competition.
Re-Discovering Their Identity
The Celtics have shown flashes of brilliance this season but have also struggled with a lack of consistency, especially on the defensive end. The Celtics’ success has always been based on their defensive intensity, and they need to re-discover that aspect of their game. Giving up 130 points to a Washington Wizards team is unacceptable and needs to be cleaned up before playoff time.
Overall, The C’s should be striving to play their best basketball in these final six games without putting their stars at risk of injury. A strong finish can give them momentum heading into the playoffs and set the tone for their playoff run. While the #1 seed would be great to have, it doesn’t mean postseason success.
The key to a successful Celtics playoff run is not in the seed but in the team’s ability to play up to their potential.