The Boston Celtics are nonetheless in command of their very own future, regardless of shedding to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night time. As issues stand, the Celtics want one recreation to clinch the second seed, both by successful one themselves or by the Sixers dropping one, whichever comes first.
Nonetheless, as everyone knows, this Celtics group likes to care for enterprise; that’s why a rotation lacking Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams ran a real Jap Convention menace shut, shedding by simply two factors. Now, on the second night time of a back-to-back, the Celtics might be seeking to wrap up their seeding, giving them some extra freedom for the ultimate two video games of the common season later this week.
The Toronto Raptors shouldn’t be taken evenly, although. Positive, they’re not a contending group and haven’t had a season to write down house about, however they’re younger, well-coached, and boast a ton of size and athleticism of their frontcourt. As such, listed here are three issues to search for in Wednesday’s recreation.
Allow them to fly from deep
Solely two groups within the league have achieved a worse job at defending the three-point line this season than the Raptors, as they’ve allowed their opponents to shoot 38.1% from past the arc. Given Boston’s propensity to fireside away early and sometimes, the Celtics may discover themselves pushing the boundaries from deep, particularly in the event that they see some fall early.
After all, as we’ve seen at instances this 12 months, giving the Celtics free reign from deep isn’t at all times the best choice, as they’ll typically grow to be too over-reliant on hitting house run after house run. What we all know by now could be that the Celtics feed off momentum, so no matter how poor the Raptor’s three-point protection has been this season if the photographs aren’t falling, will probably be on Joe Mazzulla to alter their offensive outlook.
Nonetheless, given the quantity of taking pictures expertise all through the Celtics roster, arising towards a group that has significantly struggled to cease groups from getting their approach may have everybody licking their lips at a possible high-scoring night time.
Maintaining the minutes down
We’re so near the top of the common season that we are able to see the end line and odor the meals distributors lining the streets as the gang awaits us to cross that threshold. Coming into this recreation, having performed the night time earlier than, and traveled, the Celtics can be good to instill strict minute restrictions on their core rotation.
All people likes successful. And seeding continues to be very a lot in play. But with the playoffs looming within the distance, and far larger objectives taking priority, now could be the time to start out wrapping your major guys in bubble wrap and prioritizing well being. Final season, Boston entered the postseason with out Robert Williams, and although he returned halfway by means of the primary spherical, he by no means discovered his greatest type throughout their run to the NBA Finals.
This 12 months, the Celtics have an opportunity to move into the opening night time of the playoffs with a whole rotation, and that must be way more vital than successful every of their final three video games — particularly when the Sixers may do Boston’s job for them by shedding one in every of their upcoming contests.
The Teaching Battle
When discussing the playoffs in current weeks, one factor that I’ve continued to ponder is how Mazzulla goes to truthful in a seven-game sequence towards among the elite coaches within the NBA. Proper now, there’s a potential first-round matchup towards the Miami Warmth and Erik Spoelstra on the playing cards. Whereas Miami doesn’t pose a big menace from a expertise standpoint, Spoelstra is among the many most gifted coaches within the league, which implies Mazzulla will should be at his greatest all through the sequence if he needs to outwit his counterpart.
A two-game mini-series towards Nick Nurse might be indicator of how Mazzulla and his teaching employees will truthful when going through among the trickier coaches within the league, particularly within the second recreation when each side have made changes and look to muddy issues up within the half-court.
It will likely be fascinating to concentrate to the teaching battle over the following few days, making be aware of substitution patterns, defensive scheme modifications, and what sort of actions Mazzulla makes use of to negate the Raptors’ size when pressuring driving lanes. Moreover, Nurse is a grasp at ruffling feathers on the sideline, so seeing how Mazzulla retains his gamers centered and motivated may even be one other good indicator of what to anticipate as soon as the stress cooker of the playoffs is underway.
I’ll hold this quick and candy. Win or lose, simply come away from the sport wholesome and on the again of efficiency. Every part else will type itself out, however now isn’t the time to be going 100 mph on each possession. Let’s get to the playoffs well-rested, filled with confidence, and able to go one step additional than final 12 months.