Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Celtics are in first place, but can they stay there?

Boston's win in Charlotte last night moved them into a first place tie with Philly in the Atlantic Division, which could well mean the difference between opening up the playoffs at home vs Indiana or Atlanta, or on the road in Miami or Chicago.  That's a huge difference.  But it's going to be very difficult for the Celtics to hang on to the 4th seed in the East.  Last night Paul Pierce had a monster game, his 36 points were a team high for the season, and the most he's scored in two years.  He also poured in 10 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.  But he had to play 38 minutes to do it.

Other starters Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, and Rajon Rondo played 40 minutes apiece, and Garnett logged 33.  Not that long ago I thought the C's had one of the best benches in the league, with a nine man rotation that included Bass, Bradley, Mickael Pietrus, and Chris Wilcox.  But now it's gone.  Completely.  Bass is a full time starter, and with Ray Allen and Pietrus out Bradley is too. And Wilcox is done for the season.  Last night the Celtics reserves were only able to contribute 9 points (three each from Dooling, Hollins, and Stiemsma).  It's going to be very difficult for Boston to keep winning games if they have to rely so heavily on the starters.

Not to mention the C's upcoming schedule is brutal.  Of their 15 games in April, eleven of them are against playoff teams, including Chicago, San Antonio, Orlando, and Miami; three times.  How is it possible they have to play the Heat 3 times in the last three and a half weeks?!  The Sixers have a much easier schedule the rest of the way, only 7 of their last 17 games are against teams likely to be in the playoffs.  So it's clearly a tough road ahead for Boston.  Hopefully there's a bit of a "reverse jinx" thing going on here.


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