The play-in tournament is a new addition to the NBA postseason thanks to the pandemic. And if the Celtics want to make a real run in the playoffs, they’ll need to avoid it.
With about a month left in the season the Celtics need to pick it up. They’re a losing streak away from not only being in the play-in round but out completely. Because looking at the top teams in the eastern conference, it’s best to avoid them until later.
Play-In Tournament Means Less Rest From Players
Remember last year when after the season resumed some teams got to sit out during the play-in tournament? The Celtics were one of those teams that sat out. Because of that they were able to rest their star players and their veterans who thrive off of down time. As far as the other teams in the league who were in the play-in tournament, they didn’t make it too far.
Yes, teams do get a chance to steal a spot last minute, but at what cost? Postseason play is brutal as it becomes more physical and the game slows down. Star players play minutes in the high 30s to 40s and are exhausted afterwards. Look at Jimmy Butler in the finals last year game 5 to bring his team to victory. If Boston wants rest, they’ll need to avoid it.
The Top Teams Are Seriously Good
Remember that Philadelphia team the Celtics swept last year in the first round? Well… their back and better than ever. Doc Rivers turned that team around to become one of the best teams in the league. Ben Simmons healthy is also a game changer as he’s playing like a defensive player of the year candidate.
As far as the other teams go, no question Brooklyn is the favorites to win the entire thing. And it’s best to face them deep in the playoffs. The Miami Heat have been a bit underwhelming but yet a tough out in the playoffs. And of course, the Milwaukee Bucks have a former MVP on their team. Celtics will need their rest and also have a decent seed placement to avoid good teams until later.
Celtics Already Short On Man Power
This season the Celtics haven’t shown their full squad on the floor. Midseason addition Evan Fournier has been out for some games now. Kemba Walker was hurt for half of the season. Tristan Thompson has been hurt and faced COVID protocols. Marcus Smart also missed a good portion of games. With this play-in tournament it would just mean more games and minutes for the Celtics who don’t need it.
If they slip in to those 8 and 9 seeds than the hopes of a championship may go down the drain. Each playoff round will be a best of 7 and teams need all the help they can get. Especially a Celtics squad that’s been struggling to get it together all season.