Eddie Bronsozian |April 1st, 2019
The Celtics are coming off a “solid” 2-1 week, there are only five more games to go and the Celtics will look to pick up the slack in their next few games.
Overview of Last Week
The Celtics visited the Cavaliers on the road last Tuesday, they obviously came into that game expected to take the victory. They lived up to expectations and defeated the Cavs 116-106. Marcus Smart led the way for Boston with 21 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Al Horford also had a solid all-around game dropping 19 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. As for the Cavs Colin Sexton had a good game and dropped 24 points on Boston. Then on Friday night, the Celtics had a pretty big game against the Indiana Pacers, in which was also a possible and most likely bound to happen 1st round playoff match-up. Celtics defeated the Pacers at home as Kyrie Irving hit a game-winning layup and left only 0.5 seconds on the clock, which wasn’t enough time for Indiana to tie or win the game, Celtics beat Indiana 114-112. Kyrie Irving dropped 30 points to go along with 5 assists. Bojan Bogdanovic dropped 27 points on the other end for Indiana but came up short on the road. On Saturday Boston went on the road to face off against the Brooklyn Nets, it was a close game for the most part, but Boston fell apart and played sloppy basketball in which lead to a 96-110 loss. D’Angelo Russell poured in 29 points to go along with 10 assists, despite Kyrie being out this was a disappointing effort and loss on Bostons end. Boston will look to finish the season off strong.
What Will this Week Look Like?
The Celtics have 3 Eastern Conference matchups coming up this week in which are all pretty important games. They look to begin the week off going up against the Miami Heat, they will be at home in the TD Garden. It’s D-Wades last game in the TD Garden, it should be a great game especially since Miami is very close to making the playoffs right behind the Orlando Magic who currently sit in the #8 spot. Josh Richardson who has had a very solid season this year, leads the team in scoring at about 16.7 PPG. Then at center, you have Hassan Whiteside who leads the team in rebounding at 11.4 a game, he also leads the team in blocks at almost 2 a game. D-Wade has had a very solid season coming off the bench and has made some huge plays throughout the season despite it being his last. He is the team’s second-leading scorer at about 14.4 points a game to go along with 3.8 rebounds a game and 4 assists. The atmosphere will definitely be playoff-like as Miami is trying to get in at that #8 slot, the Heat are gonna be here to play with heart and defense. Miami is an overall very solid team, they have a lot of young guys that play great defense and make you take tough shots, like Justise Winslow, for example, he has had a solid season on the defensive end and also leads the team in assists at about 4 a game. He is also averaging 1 steal a game, he is very versatile and will force you to take tough shots. Boston will have to play physical against a team with a post scoring type center in Whiteside, who can also rebound very well. Don’t forget about Derrick Jones Jr. now, he is almost on a highlight reel every night with his “ridiculous” high-flying dunks, he is also long and versatile and can give you a tough time on the defensive end of the ball. I expect Boston to win a close game at home in D-Wades last game in the TD Garden.
Wednesday vs Miami Heat
The Celtics will face off against the Heat once again on Wednesday night, but this time they will be on the road. Playing in Miami is always tough, they have an amazing and very energetic crowd. Throughout the years there were many rivalries between Boston and Miami as well, so due to the fact that Wade is retiring, it will be a very entertaining game as both teams look to retain their playoff spots or are trying to get in. For Boston Kyrie could possibly sit out in order to rest for the playoffs, but either way, it will still be a great and playoff-like game. I expect Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward to step up on Boston’s end because they have both been a bit sloppy and haven’t played efficiently in the last few games. Tatum is averaging 15.8 PPG and is the team’s second-leading scorer behind Kyrie Irving, which is great, but he has dropped a few points compared to last season which was sort of expected coming into this year. Overall Tatum has been solid this season, but inconsistent as well due to the fact that he has had some sloppy games and hasn’t shown up at times. I expect Jayson Tatum to step up and drop 20 plus points to go along with 8 or more rebounds against the Miami Heat whether or not Kyrie is out. Jaylen Brown has played well off the bench and it hasn’t been talked about much, he is averaging 15 points and 4 rebounds off the bench in the last 10 games, if Kyrie is out I expect Rozier to play well and put on a show along with Tatum in which should be a very playoff-like game. I believe Boston will lose a close one on the road, but knowing this team they could possibly get it done and get the victory, but I don’t see it happening.
Friday vs Indiana Pacers
Celtics take on Indiana on Friday evening, they just beat the Pacers last Friday as Kyrie hit the game-winning layup in very nice fashion. It was a playoff-like atmosphere especially since the Celtics are very likely to play Indiana in the first round. Oladipo is done for the season as you all know, but Indiana plays with “heart” and has a lot of size up front. Myles Turner can expand the floor and hit you with a 3-ball or score in the paint and also has a very good defense. He leads the team in blocks per game at 2.7, that will definitely be a problem for Boston on the offensive end. Darren Collison is the point guard for Indiana and he leads the team in assists at about six a game, he is also a scrappy defender that will pressure the ball and can shoot well from the perimeter. Sabonis has also been a huge part of Indiana’s success this season, he leads the team in FG % at about 58.5, Bogdanovic is the leading scorer at 18.2 PPG since Victor Oladipo got hurt. People tend to forget about Thaddeus Young, he is a very solid player that plays well on both ends he leads the team in steals at 1.6 a game and averages about 12 points a game and picks up 6.5 boards. He has length and versatility, he is also left-handed and can give it to you when needed in the post which is a very underrated part of his game. Boston will have to match their intensity on the road, Marcus Smart is going to have to play well for the C’s with his defensive intensity and hard play. I expect Hayward to have a pretty good game because Indiana is his hometown and he always tends to play pretty well against the Pacers. The Pacers will look to get revenge on Boston from the other day when Irving hit that tough game-winner so it will be a great and entertaining game. I expect Boston to win a very close game on the road in order to maintain the #4 seed.
The Celtics moved up to the #4 seed after they beat the Indiana Pacers last Friday. They are very likely to play the Indiana Pacers in the 1st round, despite Oladipo being out due to an injury, the Pacers are still a pretty tough outing because they play well on the defensive end and they have a lot of versatility. I expect the C’s to maintain the #4 seed in order to get home-court advantage in the 1st round. The season is coming to a close with only 5 games left for Boston if they can finish off the regular season going 5-0 that would be great for their confidence and morale going into the playoffs. Health is Boston’s top priority with players such as Kyrie, Horford and definitely Gordon Hayward. The young guys will have to forget about getting paid and their egos going into the playoffs. They made it to the conference finals a year ago, but they know that the East is much better and improved so each round will be a challenge and if they play inconsistent like they did all season long with negative-team chemistry, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boston lost in the 1st or 2nd round. I have positive expectations for Boston going into the playoffs due to a great coaching staff and an array of talent. I expect Boston to go 2-1 this coming week, but can also go 3-0 if they play really well, but either way, they need to be prepared and focused for the playoffs.
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