There’s no place like home, especially in the NBA. In the home stretch of the season home games are going to mean a lot, especially in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee will be the one seed barring a monumental collapse, but after that Boston and Toronto are jockeying for the two seed with Miami, Philadelphia and Indiana not too far behind. For the Celtics, the number two seed would be a big boost in their chase for banner 18. Over the past three seasons the C’s have had home court advantage in the first round, and went on to win those series and made back to back eastern conference finals in 2017 and 2018.
Obviously the Celtics want to win, but looking at the home records for the teams in the east in the playoffs, Boston is tied with the fourth most home victories (23). Philadelphia is atrocious on the road at 9-22, but at home they are a league best 28-2. As of Monday the Celtics would face Indiana in a rematch from last year’s first round matchup, and the winner of that series would face Toronto who is the second seed in the east. The Raptors first round opponent as of now would be the Orlando Magic, who are six games under .500.
On average teams 2-6 in the east have 20 games left starting Friday. Boston and Philadelphia have the most home matchups (11) while Toronto has the fewest (9). In the playoffs it’s a grind, and anything can happen in a series as five 8 seeds pulled upsets over the top team in their conference. 52 number one seeds have won the NBA finals, while 11 have won from the number 2 spot, including the defending Raptors. Only seven teams have won from the 3 seed with four of them since the turn of the millennium. The 1969 Celtics are the only 4 seed to win the finals, and the ’95 Rockets won from the lowest seed, 6th. Philadelphia’s poor road record would appear to be what everybody is looking at, but all they would need to do potentially is steal one road win and win out at Wells Fargo Center.
For a team like the Celtics, with budding superstars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, a two seed would be much easier when talking about possible paths to the NBA Finals. Starting with a potential matchup with a young team in Orlando or Brooklyn, followed by home court against a Raptors team that is 19-9 as of March 2nd. Going back in time to the start of the 2017-18 season the home team won every matchup between the two teams besides the Celtics Christmas win this season. The Celtics would most likely face a Milwaukee team looking to put last season’s conference finals collapse behind them, but this team has faced little adversity. In nine of their last 11 wins the Bucks have won by 11+ points.
Is this the green teamer talking here? Maybe, but with 63 teams in the one or two spot winning the NBA Championship, for the C’s to finish number one in the NBA, they may need to get to number 2.