Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
But perhaps the most significant thing about this particular win was that it guaranteed a winning season for Brad Stevens’ bunch. The Celtics are now 42-30 on the season. It’s obviously been a foregone conclusion for a while that they were going to finish above .500, but getting it done and seeing it on paper is nice.
“The one thing that I will say is, I’ve felt like — especially in the last year, 14 months, whatever it is — that . . . I feel like there’s real progress,” Stevens said. “And it’s been pretty consistent progress. We’re certainly going to have our bad games and we’re certainly going to have games that are unique throughout an 82-game season, but there’s been good progress, there’s been good growth. And that’s my biggest focus. But it’s like I told [CSNNE’s Abby Chin], you don’t sign up to come to the Boston Celtics to win 42 games. So we’ve got a long way to go.”
The Celtics won 40 games last season. The season before that? Just 25. So yes, there’s a good chance the C’s improve by over 20 wins in two seasons.
A big reason for that is the addition of Isaiah Thomas at last year’s trade deadline. Thomas has led the way on offense for Boston, now averaging over 22 points a game on the season. He’s scored 20-plus in 11 straight games, giving him an average of 26.5 points per game in the month of March.
Brad’s right, this team does have a long way to go. But there’s no harm in taking a moment to enjoy just how far they’ve come over two seasons.
And while the sports talk radio blowhards in this town will continue to focus on what this team lacks (franchise cornerstone player), Isaiah Thomas is putting together a monster season.
His numbers for March are elite: 26.2 ppg, 47% FG, 42% 3FG.
And if you’re watching the games consistently (unlike the sports talk radio blowhards), you can’t help but notice his ferocity and creativity when taking the ball to the basket. Did you see that scoop shot? How about that running hook? Thomas is even angling for movie roles on the court.
Alright, let’s get back to business. Last night’s win put Boston back into a tie for the 3rd seed. Exactly who do we want to draw in the first round?
Given the four-team log jam in the middle of the East, BPI projects an 80.7 percent chance that Boston’s first-round opponent will be the Hawks, Heat or Hornets. Unless the wheels come off completely for one of the four teams, they will comprise the 3-6 and 4-5 matchups in the East.
Regardless of the top seed, Boston is projected to beat both the Hornets and Heat. The Celtics’ have a 58 percent chance against Miami as the lower seed and spike to 66 percent with home-court advantage. Boston is an even more lopsided favorite against Charlotte, with a 60 percent chance to win as a lower seed and a 69 percent win rate with home court.
Then there are the Hawks, who, entering Wednesday’s game, were projected as Boston’s most likely first-round opponent, with a 29.1 percent chance of a first-round meeting. Aided by both a slight edge in season BPI rank and a heavy advantage in playoff experience, the Hawks are a 59 percent favorite as the higher seed, and Boston’s win percentage with home court is barely more than a coin flip, at 51 percent.
Computer assessment aside, I’d be most nervous to play Miami for two reasons.
First, they have the most star power and the officiating always tilts that way.
Second, you never know what Dirty Dwyane Wade is going to do. He just might knock IT into the second row on a drive to the basket.
On Page 2, let’s take a moment to laugh at LeBron’s super-team.
“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” James said. “At least one, maybe one or two seasons—me, Melo, D-Wade, CP—we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that.”
Maybe at the end of their careers, James said. Maybe sooner. One more ring chase, this time with everyone on board.
“It would be pretty cool,” James said. “I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”
Before bounding away, he smiles and closes with a coy chirp: “We’ll see.”
Aren’t we days removed from reports that LeBron is altering his social media habits in order to be more focused for the playoffs?
Call me crazy, but talk of building a super-team with your buddies isn’t exactly focus.
Man, these guys really are like high school kids.
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