Losers of two games in a row, the Boston Celtics have a prime opportunity over their next three games to put the slight setback behind them.
Losses to the Pacers and 76ers last week now have the Celtics just a half game up on the fourth place Miami Heat and one game over the fifth place Toronto Raptors.
Looking over their next three games, the Celtics should be able to keep pace with the 76ers while staving off the Heat and the Raptors. Tonight, they play in Dallas against the Mavericks who are missing their second year sensation in Luka Doncic, who suffered an ankle sprain recently that has kept him out of action.
Even without Doncic, the Mavericks are not to be overlooked. They snapped the Milwaukee Bucks’ 18-game winning streak without him on Monday.
However, the Boston Celtics are easily the better team without Doncic on the floor. Coming off of a six-day rest period, the Celtics should be able to break their two-game skid if they bring their best effort.
After tonight’s game against the Mavericks, the Celtics have two home games in a row against the Detroit Pistons and the Charlotte Hornets. Both of those teams are below .500 and in theory shouldn’t be too difficult to handle. However, the ebb and flow of the NBA season tends to be erratic. Any team can win on any given night.
Assuming they take care of business tonight at Dallas and then home at TD Garden, they’ll be riding a three game win streak into a tough stretch in which they face the Raptors twice in six days. Those games will be pivotal in the race to stay in the top four in the East and maintain home court for at least the first round of the playoffs.
With little margin for error at this point in the season, the Boston Celtics cannot waste this opportunity. Even with three straight games that can be comfortably considered winnable, taking any opponent lightly is a mistake. We will have a much better idea of how to feel about them after this weekend.