I brought this up on twitter yesterday and it produced a pretty good discussion. So it seems like a good enough slow-news-day topic.
The Boston Celtics are currently in 7th place in the Eastern Conference. A game ahead of the Bucks and a game and a half behind the Hawks. What is more interesting is that because there are 3 teams ahead of us in a virtual tie, we're just 2 games out of the 4 seed at this point.
The 4 seed could be advantageous as it would secure home court advantage in the first round. Any seed other than 8 would allow us to avoid the Miami Heat for at least a round. Conventional wisdom says to play for the highest seed and I understand the rationale and I wouldn't turn down a higher seed.
But my question is this: Would it be such a bad thing for this particular team to be the 8 seed?
I mean, call me crazy, but give me the Miami Heat right off the bat. If we are going down, go down swinging against the best. If we are going to have a chance against them, and I do think we have a chance, it might even be better to get them early when we are rested (or as rested as you can be after a grueling season). Sure, the Heat will be rested as well, but the wear and tear of a playoff series or two is going to be felt in Boston a lot heavier than it will in Miami. Or more specifically Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will feel it a lot more than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will.
At this point, the Celtics are not getting one of the top 3 seeds and I'd say the 4th seed is a long shot too. So why break your back for home court advantage when one playoff loss at home could swing that the other direction anyway? This team is better off playing to get into the playoffs rather than worrying about where they'll end up in the seedings.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to win every game. I am saying that if we win a game but exhaust (or worse injure) one of our stars in the process, we are worse off than if we would be with the loss. I'd like to see Doc strategically give KG and Pierce (and Terry for that matter) games off down the stretch. Either against really bad teams (like when KG got the Suns game off) or against really good teams (where you either concede the loss or let your support players play up to the challenge and steal a win). Rest over record.
I guess for me it boils down to this. I don't really care what the Celtics seed is. When the playoffs start and the game slows down and defense matters and rotations tighten down, ...well, you can count out the Celtics at your own peril. Me, I'll take Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and our defense against anyone in the league.
Plus, this team is about Banners. "Getting to the 2nd or 3rd round" is kinda noble and all, but what does it really mean? It means you put off the end a little longer. Of course, I may change my tune as the playoffs approach and the short shelf life of this core unit starts sinking in. I'm sure I'll be writing some "is this the last time we'll see Pierce and KG on the court?" sob stories (and of course they'll respond by coming back for 3 more years). Selfishly I'll want to watch as much Celtics basketball as I can get.
Right now, however, I'm still focused on the ultimate prize. I know this team's limitations. However unlikely it may seem without Rondo or Sullinger or even Barbosa, I won't stop believing in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and our defense. Not to mention the Pit Bulls, Jeff Green (finally his chance to shine in the playoffs), JET, and the rest of this scrappy bunch.
So yeah, I don't care what seed we get. If we get Miami in the first round, I'll take it. Bring it.