So the Celtics are fighting for a playoff spot. Before we begin, let’s all agree that even though the Eastern Conference is very weak compared to the Western Conference, it’s a pretty big shock to see the Celtics in the position they’re in.
Not only did they come into the season with a relatively weak roster, they then traded their two best players in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green midway through the season, and then lost their best forward, Jared Sullinger, in February.
But the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline was the first really big step in the “building up” process of the rebuild, instead of the tearing down. Since that time, the team has taken it to another level behind Brad Stevens. And here we are.
At this point in the season, you fall into one of two categories: you either want the Celtics to make the playoffs, or you don’t. The argument for not making the playoffs is a pretty simple one. The worse the Celtics' record is, the better chance they get at a lower pick in the NBA Draft – and a shot at the No. 1 overall pick. And by the way, there are more than a few great prospects in this year’s draft. If they make the playoffs, they can kiss that goodbye.
And while that was the consensus opinion at the start of the season, some fans are changing their tune after getting a little taste of winning basketball over the last two months.
So let’s justify why it’s OK to cheer these Celtics on in their quest to make the playoffs:
1. They’re in too deep
Take a look at the schedule and standings– there are only a handful of games left, and it’s mathematically impossible for the Celtics to drop enough in the standings to get a really good shot at a top five pick. Whether or not they make the playoffs, their pick is probably going to be in the low-to-mid-teens – so why not have a little fun in a playoff series?
2. Ainge has assets to move up
The Celtics have been stockpiling draft picks and assets for the last two seasons, and still have plenty of them to go around. No, you can’t expect the C’s to trade up to No. 1, but if there’s someone Danny Ainge has his eye on and it looks like he may go a few picks ahead of the Celtics, the C’s have what it takes to move up.
3. Let’s see what they have
The Celtics aren’t close to title contention – but they’re closer than we thought. So when the games really count, who steps up? Who do we want sticking around? Now is the time to find out. And all it takes is one or two big free agents watching at home to think of themselves as the missing piece.