Right about now, the name of the game for the Boston Celtics is to avoid a first round matchup with the Miami Heat at all costs. But Wednesday night’s loss at home to the Brooklyn Nets keeps that very scenario alive as a mathematic possibility.
After a lackluster performance at a packed Boston Garden, the Celtics remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, just three games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks with four games to go in the season. The Heat are already locked into the number one seed and have clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
More bad news for the Celtics came a bit earlier in the night when the Atlanta Hawks won to increase their lead over Boston for the sixth seed to two and a half games.
The Celtics, though they may not admit it, would love to leapfrog the Hawks for the chance to play the injury-plagued Indiana Pacers in the playoffs. The loss to the Nets though, coupled with the Hawks win, makes that scenario a long shot at best. Instead, it seems likely that the Celtics are on a collision course with the New York Knicks. That is, as long as they don’t keep playing like they did on Wednesday.
Jeff Green continues to struggle with his offensive consistency, as right now Paul Pierce is the team’s only true scoring threat on a nightly basis. On top of that, the team defense has been just plain bad. The loss to the Nets marks the eighth time in the last 13 games that the Celtics have given up more than 100 points to their opponent.
The Celtics need to fix things, and they need to do it quickly. With just a week to go in the regular season, Boston is as unpredictable now as they have been all year. If they don’t start playing better, they’ll have no chance to beat the Knicks in the postseason — and that’s assuming they don’t blow their lead and end up facing Lebron James and the Heat.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)