The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, and teams are beginning to lock up their spots for the postseason. Both the Bucks and Raptors secured the top-2 spots in the East and already have their matchups set. Now that Boston is locked into the third seed, all they’re waiting on now is finding out who their first-round opponent will be.
Right now, both the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are tied for the fourth seed, while Philly is only a game behind both teams. If the playoffs started today, Boston and Philly would match up in the first round, and that’s something Celtics fans should want right now.
I have the utmost confidence that the Celtics would take down any of these teams in a seven-game series. But they should want to avoid Miami and Indiana early on. Miami defeated them a few games ago without Jimmy Butler, although Boston beat them twice earlier in the year. Indiana shouldn’t be an issue, but who knows what TJ Warren has in store for the playoffs. I really don’t want to find out.
Going up against the 76ers is ideal for Boston. First off, Ben Simmons may miss the rest of the season and playoffs due to a knee injury. Joel Embiid left the game against Portland yesterday because of an ankle injury and didn’t return. Embiid may not be seriously hurt, but the Sixers are banged up right now. Especially with Simmons out, Boston would have no problem taking this team down.
A lot of people didn’t want to play Philly in the first round because they thought they’d be a scary matchup, but they were never that scary to begin with. A ton of Philly fans overhype their team and think they’re better than they actually are. The Philadelphia 76ers are the Boston Celtics of last year. The team is excellent on paper but doesn’t translate well on the court.
It’s terrible that Simmons suffered the injury that he did, and I pray for a speedy recovery, but Boston should want to face this team now that they lost one of their top players. Say what you want about Simmons and his jumpshot, but shooting is the only weakness in his game, and he’s incredible at just about anything else. Simmons is a massive loss for Philly heading into the playoffs.
Philadelphia’s next three games are up against Phoenix, Toronto, and Houston, so they might not be moving up much from that sixth seed. Miami goes up against Indiana twice and the OKC Thunder, while Indiana has only Houston to face besides Miami. These next few games have a lot of meaning for these three teams.
Regardless of the matchup, Boston should be making it out of the first round. Playing Philly in the first round would be the best-case scenario for the Celtics. All we can do is wait and see what happens.
-Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck)
Photo: AP Photo/Chris Szagola