Everyone knows the road to an NBA championship is easier with home court advantage. The Celtics currenlty own the best record in the Eastern Conference, but trail the San Antonio Spurs for the overrall top spot.
While holdilng off Miami, Chicago, Dallas and LA and catching San Antonio won't be easy, the Celtics to have some things in their favor over the final 20+ games.
Spurs guard Tony Parker is out 2-4 weeks with a calf injury. San Antonio lost last night to Memphis in their first game w/o Parker. The Spurs have two games vs LA, two games vs Miami, one vs Boston and one vs Dallas.
The Celtics schedule is fairly light. Of the elite teams in the league (shown above), the Celtics play only Miami, Chicago and San Antonio (all three on the road). The combined records of their next 5 opponents is just under .500. ESPN Boston's Greg Payne examines in detail.
Miami's immediate schedule is brutal. Check out their next ten games: Orl., SA, Chicago, Portland, Lakers, Memphis, SA, OKC, Atlanta and Denver. Ouch.
The Lakers will embark on a four game road trip to San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas. They return home to face Orlando. They also have battles with Dallas, OKC and San Antonio over the final two weeks.
On the flip side, the Bulls' schedule is fairly light too. After their next four (@ATL, @ORL, @MIA, vs NO), the majority comes against lesser teams. The Bulls could give Miami a run for the 2nd seed in the East.
Watch out for the Mavs too. Aside from two games vs LA and one vs San Antonio, along with a 6 game stretch out West, their schedule is slightly favorable.
The key for the Celtics is to build up some momentum now. Beat these lesser teams in the near future while Miami struggles with a brutal schedule and the Spurs are forced to play w/o Tony Parker. With the addition of Troy Murphy and the return of Delonte West and Shaquille O'Neal, I like the Celtics chances.