Boston Celtics have a big test ahead in wrapping up 2021-22 regular season

Playoff bound, the Boston Celtics are hoping to keep flying high heading into the final week of the regular season.

A nearly perfect 42-point victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday should provide the ideal elixir.

In Boston’s final regular-season home game of 2021-22, the Celtics were a razor-slim margin away from playing flawless basketball in their 144-102 win.  Seven players scored in double figures and all starters played 30 minutes or fewer.

The bench was fantastic, with 67 points and the Celtics had 39 assists against only seven turnovers while connecting on 23-44 from three-point range. It was an outstanding effort to send the Celtics on the road for three games, all of which could impact whether Boston has home court for the first-round of the playoffs, or not.

Boston Celtics: The final stretch

Heading into the final week, the Celtics (49-30) are in the second spot in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Miami Heat. One more win by Boston would guarantee a finish no lower than fourth. However, if the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls both lose prior to Wednesday, then the Celtics would achieve home court for at least the first-round.

Wednesday’s opponent is none other than the Bulls. Boston is 1-1 against Chicago this season, with the two teams most recently back on January 15. This was a 2-point Boston win. Like was much of the case for games prior to February, one of the starters was missing as Marcus Smart missed that game.

Jayson Tatum had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Jaylen Brown had 19 points, seven rebounds, and four steals.

Next up, on Thursday (4/7), is another game with seed implications. Boston travels to face the Milwaukee Bucks, a team the Celtics are 2-1 against this season.

The teams haven’t met since Christmas Day, where the Bucks picked up a four-point victory. Al Horford did not play that day and three of the eight players who did play for the Celtics in that game are no longer with the team.

The Celtics will close out the regular season on 4/10 in Memphis. Boston defeated the Grizzlies by 13 in early March, thanks to a 37-point outburst from Tatum.

His point-scoring partner Brown missed that game. Both have been coming up big in all aspects of the game as of late and are but two of a puzzle that almost has all the pieces.

Boston Celtics: Player(s) spotlight

It was a mixed bag of results this last week for the Boston Celtics. The loss of Robert Williams III until possibly the second round of the playoffs has the Celtics refocusing and readjusting their defensive efforts.

This team sort of built their way through the week, losing some close ones off the bat but finishing strong

Missing four starters on the road against the Raptors, the Celtics proved a lot despite coming up short in overtime. It’s never ideal to lose but players earned valuable minutes. Even if not currently contributing they proved they could if called upon.

The loss to the Heat was more disheartening, as the Celtics led going into the fourth only to score 15 points and lose by eight. It was a game similar to their efforts earlier in the season, and almost the opposite of their victory over the Wizards.

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Boston had 17 turnovers in the loss to the Heat and hit only 11-37 from deep.

Thankfully, they staved off an upset-starved Indiana team to pick up a victory and get things back on track.

Horford, after missing a few games due to personal reasons, responded with upping his game a bit the last three games. He had 15 rebounds in the loss to Heat, nearly had a triple-double against the Pacers (17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists), and finished with a strong stat line against the Wizards.

He’ll be relied on in this capacity even more so moving forward, until the hopeful return of Williams.

Brown has seemingly put a mini-slump behind him, coming through with another outstanding week. He averaged nearly 31 points per game and six assists last week, capping the week off with 32 points against Washington, on 12-17 shooting.

Tatum, upon glance, seemed a little off this week but I think there was more of a facilitator to him than anything. Tatum collected 19 assists and, even in a “down” week, still averaged just over 25 points per game and shot just under 50 percent from the field.

Keeping momentum and rhythm is important in this final week. Wins are just as important, especially as the playoff picture becomes more clear. The Celtics can control only so much and to make it through the gauntlet of the playoffs will be tough no matter what.

Hopefully the wins can continue and the chips fall in a way the Boston Celtics can appreciate. The real fun is about to begin.