If the Boston Celtics are supposed to be tanking; they aren’t doing a very good job of it. Not having the worst record in the league, and still being up top in defense as well as rebounding isn’t going to lose them enough games to put Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins in a green and white jersey. That just might be ok.
Looking back, it’s understandable why no one saw the Celtics as a team that was going to overachieve. Looking forward, it’s a trend I could see continuing. Jeff Green is slowly but surely becoming the player we always hoped he could, and the Jordan Crawford masterpiece is being created brilliantly by the basketball composer that is Brad Stevens.
That said, even though no one is surprised that the Eastern Conference is bad and that the Celtics are good, the grand degree of each is surprising. Overachieving is one thing, having a top seed in the playoffs is quite another for a team that was expected to win a maximum of 20 games. But it is these two factors that could let Boston play ball in the postseason.
Right now, the Celtics are below .500. Usually, that would spell doom for any ball club trying to play in the spring. But to be fair, the Eastern Conference isn’t usually such a boatload of hot garbage that only two teams are above .500. When your division consists of the shockingly atrocious New York Knicks, the most anticlimactic team in human history that is the Brooklyn Nets, the perennially bad Toronto Raptors and the tank express Philadelphia 76ers is the thought of winning your conference while taking more losses than wins is feasible. If you don’t believe me, the Celtics would like a word with you.
Still, as bad as the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference is, Boston isn’t on top because they managed to somehow look like less of a YMCA team than their neighbors. Boston is sitting atop the Atlantic, looking at playoff seeding because somewhere in that roster, there is a pretty decent team. Coach Stevens commanded the respect of his team on Day 1. Since he’s been pushing a unity mindset, the Celtics have been buying into it, leading to 10 wins on the season so far. The previously mentioned surprise point guard Crawford has been flourishing in his distributor role and Green has had enough to clutch to spare. Even players like Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, who were at first outspoken and unwanted, are really coming into their own in the Celtic green.
But couldn’t this just be a fluke? What if the Knicks get their sorry act together and the Celtics stop believing in “Bradsketball”?
There are two reasons this bizarre situation for the Celtics is for real and here to stay. The first is that their division isn’t going to get any better. The Sixers and Raptors aren’t going anywhere and the Knicks are now realizing what they should have seen coming: they just don’t have a competitive roster. As for the Nets, keep in mind their entire team format and set up was a gamble. It turned out to be a gamble they lost. Don’t expect to hear from Brooklyn this season; they’re too busy cleaning up Pepsi on the sidelines.
The second reason is that the Celtics are only getting better. Sure, we are seeing a surprisingly good Boston team now, but what can we expect when Rajon Rondo returns from injury. More than likely to take place before the playoffs, a Rondo return could very well make the Celtics the third team in the East with a winning record.
Try to read this next part with a straight face.
Say the Celtics end up with a third seed, Rajon Rondo and the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs, the sky is the limit.
A team allegedly designed to lose could very well end up doing more winning than half the league.