Did the Boston Celtics make a mistake finishing as the No.2 seed?

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) reacts with forward Jayson Tatum (0) Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) reacts with forward Jayson Tatum (0) Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Celtics incredible regular season turnaround is officially complete. With their win last night over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Celtics capped off a 2021-22 regular season in which they went from 11th place in the Eastern Conference all the way to the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

We have been praising the Celtics play for the past few months, so I won’t waste too many words on it anymore after all the discussion we have had about it recently. All that matters now is that Boston is a legitimate title contender just a few months after they looked bound to be broken up at the NBA Trade Deadline. Regardless of what happens in the postseason, fans aren’t going to be forgetting this season anytime soon.

Boston hasn’t taken the easy route all season long, and that is most likely going to carry over to the playoffs. One of the perks of being the #2 seed is that you play one of the team’s that will come out of the NBA’s Play-In Tournament in the first round. Usually that’s a good thing. Not so much this year.

The Celtics will be playing the winner of the Brooklyn Nets/Cleveland Cavaliers game that takes place tomorrow night. The Nets are heavy favorites, and there’s a very good chance they will beat Cleveland and face off against Boston in the first round. That raises an important question; did the Celtics make a mistake finishing off the season as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference?

The Boston Celtics got the #2 seed, but was it worth it?

While a lot of people are focusing on the bad that may come from earning the #2 seed, there’s also a lot of good that comes from it too. For starters, they have now earned home court advantage for at least the first two rounds. Considering they were almost certainly going to cross paths with the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round (assuming both teams win their respective series’) having home court over them in a potential showdown would be huge.

There’s also no guarantee Brooklyn is coming to town yet either, as they still have to win their game over the Cavs. Cleveland has slid down the standings due to a number of injuries, and they are probably going to be without one of their starters in Jarrett Allen tomorrow night. Being without him makes a dire situation look even worse.

Still, there’s a reason Brooklyn is where they are in the standings. They have had both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant back on the court for some time now, and while they have been spectacular themselves, they are pretty much all the Nets have at this point. Their defense is horrible, and if you can slow down either of Durant or Irving, chances are you are going to come out on top.

Obviously a first round series against the Nets would be less than ideal, especially now that it’s being reported that Ben Simmons could be set to make his return to action at some point in the first round. Simmons would be the ultimate wildcard considering he hasn’t played at all this season and would be playing for a new team for the first time in his career. But there’s no guarantee he’s his normal self after missing virtually a year’s worth of basketball.

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The way the seeding played out yesterday afternoon, the Celtics were practcically locked into either the #2 or #4 seed. The #4 seed (the Philadelphia 76ers) will be playing the Toronto Raptors in the first round. The Raptors have been on a roll as of late, and given Canada’s COVID vaccination laws, they have a very unique home court advantage. Playing the Raptors would be tough, but so would the Nets.

The Boston Celtics shouldn’t be afraid of anybody this postseason

And yet it may not even matter who Boston goes up against considering how good they have looked lately. Even without Robert Williams (who could return at some point this postseason), the Celtics have been blowing teams out of the water. Their defense has been great all season long, but now their offense has finally reached those same heights.

As long as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are on the court, Boston is going to have a shot to win every game they play. They already beat the Nets when they had both Durant and Irving on the court a little over a month ago. It’s also worth noting Tatum single-handedly kept the C’s competitive in their five game season-ending series against Brooklyn last season, in which the Nets also had James Harden at their disposal too.

Assuming Williams can eventually return to the fold at some point, it’s not worth fearing any other team in the Eastern Conference this postseason. The Boston Celtics have shown the ability to go toe-to-toe with pretty much every team at one point or another this season, regardless of whether they were at full strength or not.

Aiming to avoid the Nets makes sense in the regard that you don’t want your season to end in the first round. But at some point, you are going to have beat the best in order to be the best. The Nets aren’t the best team in the playoffs, but they will provide the stiffest test of any of the lower-seeded teams in the postseason to whoever they play in the first round (assuming they make it there).

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When it came time to play basketball last night, the only logical choice for the Boston Celtics was to go out and try to win. It ultimately shouldn’t matter who this team plays at any stage of the playoffs; they have proven to be one of the best teams in the league all season long.

Sure, avoiding the Nets in the first round would be ideal, and while not super likely, it still could happen. But regardless of who the Celtics play, it’s clear they are confidant they are the better team, and that’s what a championship team ultimately has to be made of.