I personally thought it was crazy to imagine the Celtics regaining the 1 seed in the east.
But once the Raptors surpassed them and the Celtics got bombarded with injuries to essentially all of their key players, to be clear, I’m not here to get any Boston fans hopes up. But they should know that their crippled C’s have a semi (Ojeleye) decent chance to snag the top spot. Currently, the incredibly deep Toronto squad is 3 games up on the dwindled Boston team. 3 games up with 8 games left seems like a sure bet for Drake and the Raptors to stay where they are so you might be thinking that I should just shut my dumb ass up, but let me get to the facts.
Previous 5 Games: Celtics 4-1 Raptors 2-3
Strength of schedule has clearly favored the Celtics recently, but a win against a good team is worth just as much a win against a bad team.
The Celtics should be very happy with their wins against OKC and Portland though. Marcus Morris has stepped up a shit ton with Kyrie out giving the C’s those 2 big wins with Morris’ clutch scoring. As for the other side of the border, the Raptors have had tough losses to the Cavs, Thunder, and Clippers, all of which tend to hand out L’s to good teams.
The strength of schedule remains in the Celtics favor from here on out as well.
|Celtics Final 8 Games||Raptors Final 8 Games|
|3/28 @Jazz (42-32)||3/27 Nuggets (40-34)|
|3/31 Raptors (54-20)||3/31 @Celtics (51-23)|
|4/3 @Bucks (39-34)||4/3 @Cavs (44-29)|
|4/4 @Raptors (54-20)||4/4 Celtics (51-23)|
|4/6 Bulls (24-49)||4/6 Pacers (43-31)|
|4/8 Hawks (21-53)||4/8 Magic (22-51)|
|4/10 @Wizards (40-33)||4/9 @Pistons (34-40)|
|4/11 Nets (23-51)||4/11 @Heat (39-35)|
These last 8 games could prove to be brutal for the Raptors.
They face the Cavs and the Celtics on a back to back. Those 2 nights will prove to be tough for Toronto. Two nights prior to the Cavs matchup they face the Celtics again. So, in a 3-game span, they face Boston, Cleveland, Boston. Granted, Boston faces Toronto in the second night of a back to back themselves, but their first matchup is the Bucks whereas the Raptors must face the Cavs in the first night. The Celtics should be able to beat every single opponent besides the Raptors with relative ease. For the Raptors, the Nuggets always play east teams hard. The Cavs at home is not an easy task whatsoever, especially with Lebron getting himself into playoff mode. The two Celtics games, of course, shouldn’t be easy. Pacers are fighting for first round home court with the 76ers, so they’ll play their asses off against Toronto. Toronto should easily beat Orlando in Toronto. The Pistons gave the Raps a super tough game last time they met and took it to OT so this could be a nice revenge game for the motor city. The Heat in Miami will be one of those really tough grind-it-out games as well.
Miami is currently 8th in the East and would view the game as a potential playoff preview.
For the Celtics to take the one seed I would have them going 6-2 in these final 8 with a sweep over the Raptors in their two matchups. The Raptors inversely would need to go 3-5 in these final 8, which is definitely a possibility given their matchups. If this scenario were to occur, both teams would finish with a 57-25 record. The Celtics sweep of the Raptors would give them the tiebreaker and the right to the 1 seed. I’m a die-hard Celtics fan so I am gonna hope my boys on crutches and neck braces will pull it out.
The top seed doesn’t mean much if they’re just gonna get bopped in the first round. The only real benefit for this top seed is if the Raptors and Celtics meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. The home court advantage is huge.
The Raptors are not coming into the roaring TD Garden for a game 7 and getting a victory.
Healthy Kyrie Irving will finally truly show Boston his clutch gene in a potential game 7 at home to bring us to the Finals. Holy shit my own writing just gave me the chills. I mean who wouldn’t get goosebumps at the thought of a game 7 Kyrie with that TD Garden in the background.
-Brandon Black (@bhblack02)