There's a decent chance the Celtics and Sixers will meet in the first round. On one hand, I don't like the prospect of playing a young, athletic, whippersnapper team in the early rounds of the playoffs. On the other hand, based on lsat night and a few other factors - I like our chances.
Yes, it could be a fun first round, this Acela Express Series, but it's clear that, for now, these teams are on two different levels. Before the game Collins talked about the value of the postseason and the kind of teaching tool it could be for his young group. Several Sixers players said they hoped the team wouldn't take a 'just-happy-to-be-there' mentality into the postseason, but none could say for certain that wouldn't be the case. It's certainly not for Boston. It's championship or bust in Beantown. And Philadelphia may be the first stop.
One big reason why the matchup doesn't scare me as much as say a New York series is because of the injuries. Not only are the Sixers likely without their dynamic bench scorer Lou Williams (this is a big deal), it was just revealed that Elton Brand has been playing with a broken hand for a month now.
"It still bothers him," Rod Thorn, Philadelphia’s president, said in a telephone call Monday night. "He’s had trouble for the last month trying to catch balls. There’s no complaints about it from him. He keeps playing. His confidence, his leadership, have been invaluable to our team."
Still, before we concede the 2 seed to the Heat, consider that the two teams play each other (a matchup the C's have owned so far this year). The Celtics do have to face the Bulls as well, and nobody is happy about the 2 remaining back-to-backs, but let me cast some bit of optimism on that situation. The 2nd game of each of those back-to-backs is vs. the Wizards. The same Washington team that just announced that 6 of their rotation guys are out for the season (including dynamic scorer Nick Young).
And finally, at some point, you just have to stop worrying about who will play who and what seed each team will slot into. I like our chances against anybody, anywhere. And that isn't just gut feel. There are even stats to back me up. John Hollinger makes the case that once the post season rotations tighten up, the C's offense (subject to much criticism lately) will improve greatly.
Boston? Arguably, the Celtics could benefit nearly as much. Consider this chart from basketballvalue.com. What you're seeing is Boston's plus-minus with various units on the court. At the top, notice that their most common units feature their four All-Stars with any warm-bodied big man; you'll see that regardless of whether it's Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal or Ed O'Neill, the Celtics dramatically outscore the opposition with that group. Meanwhile, some commonly used Boston regular-season units that were trampled -- like "Robinson-Wafer-Daniels-Davis-Erden", for instance -- won't be seeing daylight this postseason.
Giddyup. Who's ready for the playoffs to start?