Pick Your Poison

As the playoff picture unfolds there are still some twists and turns left to be taken before anything is set in stone. However, the Celtics possible opponents come spring are more condensed than others. Despite a 10-10 start which acts as a crutch for the entire season in terms of their own seeding, the Celtics have rebounded and won 33 of their last 50. As of late the team found their collective mojo. Jaylen Brown is making a strong for him being reinserted into the starting lineup; and before suffering a neck strain Gordon Hayward seemed to have found a groove.

Boston can hope to advance no further than the third seed in the playoff standings. It’s likely the first round matchup will be either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Indiana Pacers. It is not a given Boston will have home-court advantage. The green team sits two games behind both Indy and Philly. This is crucial since the Celtics currently are 17-17 on the road versus 26-10 at home.

The Pacers have shown great strength in not cratering since losing Victor Oladipo for the season. Currently sporting the best defense in the N.B.A. Anchored by two young bigs Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, the former leads the team in rebounding (9.2) and the latter in blocks (2.8). The health of Boston’s bigs are immensely crucial to this series. Without either Al Horford or Aron Baynes the Celtics will lose this series on the boards. The loss of Oladipo dropped Indiana’s offense in to the bottom-tier of the league. Someone whose supposed to carry the torch, Tyreke Evans, hasn’t cut the mustard and picked a helluva time to have the worst season of his career. That all being said, the Pacers are still scary to a team that can’t get out of their own way like Boston.

Turning to the Sixers, the old cliche “there’s no loved loss” rings true. Amongst the fans that is. Philly’s gone under an extreme makeover since the season began. Gone is the faltering number one pick Markell Fultz. Defensive stalwart on the perimeter Robert Covington and power forward Dario Saric, who was an underrated thorn in Boston’s side last playoffs. In are Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Jonathon Simmons. This is Philly’s best collection of talent in almost two-decades and its all because they whiffed on the number one pick…

For the constant reshuffling of the deck Brett Brown is able to still field a top-10 team in offensive and defensive rating. No matter how you slice it Butler is not a good fit next to Simmons or Embiid. Yet, they are able to overcome the growing pains and remain a force in the east. No team or player can even remotely hope to contain the fearsome twosome that radically altered the floundering franchise to fringe title contender status.

Well… except for Al Horford. Whatever the reasoning Old, Steady Al (as I am trying to nickname him) constantly gets the best of Embiid. J.B can do it all, yet against Horford a bullet in the chamber is unloaded and Embiid is forced out of the paint and turned into a spot-up shooter. It’s magnificent to witness as it still doesn’t make any sense. It’s like I am watching Paul Pierce versus LeBron James before his Miami-days. The future of the N.B.A getting constantly bested by who many deem irrelevant and “overpaid” and “average”.

If Mike Budenholzer is guilty of annually fizzling in the playoffs, but getting the best of Brad Stevens. Stevens deserves the label of someone who owns Brett Brown.

I am going to regret saying this, but I think Boston can win on the road in Philly and can’t do it anywhere else. Because I’ve seen them steal one before down there and they have yet to have lost a game to Philly this season.

Author: sailboatstudios

Hack. Amateur. Professional quitter.

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