Nothing short of an abysmal season would make sense coming from the Boston Celtics. Head Coach Doc Rivers is gone, the Big 3 are gone, Rajon Rondo is in recovery, and the prime candidate for starting center is beginning to look like Fab Melo. Needless to say, Boston fans are not looking at a promising Celtics team this season. However, there is a chance that the Celtics will crash the playoffs by default this season. Notice they will not do so accidentally, as Boston has displayed it has no desire to tank in hopes of picking up Andrew Wiggins in the coming draft.
Overall, the Celtics are not a team built for the postseason. I’m not suggesting they even think about a banner, or winning a lot, or even the second round of the playoffs for that matter. This is a Celtics team in an uncomfortable building process, and is going to accomplish the purpose of a placeholder in history until the next dominant form of the Boston ball club comes along.
So how will they make it?
There is one solid reason a mediocre team like the Celtics could arrive in the postseason: The Eastern Conference. Sometimes nicknamed the “Least-ern Conference” by its detractors, the NBA East has done little to nothing to change itself. I know that sounds crazy. Just look at all of the moves that were made. Things are going to be a lot different, right? Not necessarily.
Every big move that took place in the East was exclusively for the benefit of teams that were going to make the playoffs anyway. Just look where the big stars went. Sure, Andrew Bynum went to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but is Nerlens Noel going to make the Philadelphia 76ers‘ playoff material? Of course not! In fact, the Bynum-to-Cleveland signing is the lone example of a bad team getting good enough to potentially change the landscape. All that was shaken up was the potential top-four playoff seeds.
The free-agency market never tends to do much for poor-quality teams anyway, but even via trade, the rich got richer in the East. The Brooklyn Nets got three superstars in Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Miami Heat organization has decided to play the Greg Oden-roulette in hopes of improving. Even the New York Knicks found a way to (potentially) upgrade with the addition of Metta World Peace.
As for the Celtics, they could be just good enough to sneak in at the eighth seed, seeing how the only new contender for the playoffs is the Cavaliers. In theory, even if the Celtics are abysmal, as long as they can be better than Cleveland, a few extra games on the season in possible. Another scenario that could slide the Celtics into the playoffs is if the Milwaukee Bucks don’t manage to out-play them.
That said, one could never know for sure how good a team will be. As fans, for all we know, the Charlotte Bobcats acquisition of Al Jefferson could somehow get them home court advantage. The Brooklyn super-team could pull a Los Angeles Lakers and crash and burn, opening a new top spot in the East.
Right now, the Eastern Conference is something of an open door. It’s entirely possible the Celtics could bite and claw their way through that door.