On to basketball…
So now that I’ve gotten all of the Claude/Bruins stuff out of my system, until the Neely/Jacobs press conference Wednesday anyway, let’s talk about a team that actually MADE the playoffs. That would be your 2015-16 Boston Celtics.
I’m not going to lie. I have not watched every minute of every Celtics game this year. Not much of a surprise there. I have caught a great deal of action however. And it has often been entertaining. Is the team championship timber? Doubtful. But I don’t think anyone expected a championship this year.
I do believe that everyone kind of did expect (demand?) at the very least a first round playoff series victory this season. That would fit in the natural progression of things under coach Brad Stevens. 25-57 in his first year, 40-42 and a first round playoff loss in his second. 48-34 with at least advancing past the first round would satisfy many in a third year. Not that any Celtic fans are looking only for “satisfaction”. But the knowledgeable fan should be realistic about where the team stands in relation to the league as a whole in its current state. While also recognizing that action with any and all of the teams’ “assets” this summer will be imperative. Then we can move forward into the 2016-17 season in Stevens’ fourth year and have at least borderline championship aspirations.
But we will worry about next year…next year. On to the matter at hand. The Atlanta Hawks.
Did we want to play the Hawks? Does it matter? Looking back, it did appear the C’s had some problems with Atlanta this year to the tune of a 1-3 record…with the one win being way back in mid-November. 3-0 against the Heat looks nice. But there is still some talent on that team, even without Chris Bosh, who apparently is not going to play in the playoffs. Can’t take them lightly. Charlotte? 2-1 against them, but the 2 wins came before Christmas. And the C’s didn’t look so hot in that loss 5 days ago. All 4 of these teams actually finished 48-34, so it’s probably “six of one, half-dozen of the other.” Although one thing is for sure: it would’ve been nice to finish in the #6 slot, so if the C’s do win, they would avoid the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2nd round. Finishing in the #5 position pretty much assures the C’s the Cavs in the 2nd round, if the Celts advance.
Anyway, as for the Hawks themselves and the Celtic’s chance against them in Round One? Wish I had an answer for you. I haven’t watched a single minute of Atlanta Hawks basketball all season…except for times I may have seen them against the Celtics. Ssssssssoooo…are the Hawks any good? Who the hell knows?
But seriously, you are talking about 2 teams with the same record, #4 & #5 seeds in the conference, and were one game off on home and road records. Both teams finished 6-4 in their last 10 games. So neither should have any kind of momentum to lean on, positive or negative. As opposed to the Memphis Grizzlies (why are they still called the “Grizzlies”?), who went 1-9 in their last 10 and have Mike Conley and Marc Gasol out for the year and possibly a hobbled Tony Allen for Round 1. Good luck against San Antonio…
Atlanta’s “Big Three” of Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Jeff Teague may well be better than the theoretical “Big Three” of the Celtics…Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, I would presume. But at first glance, it would appear the Celtics have at least a slight advantage when comparing the rest of the rosters. Maybe you have to worry about someone named Kent Bazemore or Dennis Schroder every once in a while. But Kyle Korver seemed to not be the same guy this year. He actually shot a smidge less than 40% from beyond the arc, which he hadn’t done in 7 years. I’m not saying leave the guy wide open. But maybe the threat is not the same?
Who else on Atlanta will you worry about? Kris Humphries? Mike Scott? Thabo Sefolosha?
Ok, I suppose you can say the same thing as a Hawks fan about the remaining Boston players: Kelly Olynyk? Marcus Smart? Evan Turner? Seriously?
But for some unknown and unscientific and uneducated (really) reason, I feel better about Boston’s 4-8 than Atlanta’s. As long as Smart doesn’t actually shoot and sticks to focusing on suffocating defense. I know, fat chance of that happening. And as long as Stevens doesn’t go to his #9 or #10 too often (Jonas Jerebko & Tyler Zeller). I know, there’s a fat chance of that happening too. For the record, I don’t want to see Stevens go to his #11-#15 (R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier, Jordan Mickey, James Young and John Holland (who??!)) at all in this series. But Brad likes to get Rozier and Hunter involved for some reason. So I expect those 2 to get a few minutes here and there anyway.
I really don’t have much more analysis for you here. Hard to fake it when you haven’t seen much of the other team play. Hard to completely analyze when you are just going on numbers and from what you have heard the “experts” talk about.
Sssssoooo…a prediction? Everyone likes to hear predictions, though they don’t necessarily mean much. I think what mine is going to come down to is really my gut feeling. This feeling I have had since the matchup was finalized and before any research was done. The Celtics will of course show up and play hard…very hard. The games will be entertaining and the C’s will never be out of it. They will fight tooth and nail. However:
Atlanta Four games to Three.
Home court for the Hawks will be the difference in Game 7. Not that the Hawks have rabid fans. Not that Boston can’t win on the road. Again, just my gut feeling.
It would have been nice to go up against the Cavs again this year and see how much they have progressed since last year. It obviously could still happen. I’m just not feeling it now.
Ask me again after tonight’s Game 1 and I may change my mind. It could be that kind of series…
Posted on April 16, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jeff Teague, Marcus Smart, NBA, NBA playoffs, Paul Millsap. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.