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Is March success a good playoff predictor? The Celtics hope so

The Celtics are nearing the stretch run of their important 2016-17 season.Getty Images

As the Celtics continue their march towards the playoffs, it's important to take a look at their recent success.

Specifically, March.

Their overall March record won't have you jumping for joy. The C's are currently 7-4 in March, as they get set to host the Indiana Pacers tonight, a team fighting for one of the final playoff spots.

But this is the point of the season when a win (or a loss) isn't just a win (or a loss).

You circle the big ones - the measuring stick games. Mix in a couple bad losses against non-playoff teams, shake them off, and keep chugging along. And if that's what we're doing for the Celtics, then March has been a big, big month.

It kicked off on March 1 with a win at home against the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The following road trip has its ups and downs, but it couldn't get more "up" than Boston's 99-86 win in Golden State on March 8, a defensive performance that held the Warriors to season-low numbers - and pumped even more confidence into the Celtics.

And Boston's latest big win may be one of their biggest of the season: Monday night's 110-102 win over the Washington Wizards, a team that has gone back and forth with the Celtics all season.

While the playoffs are still 11 games away, the C's and Wizards were locked in a playoff-like game on Monday, complete with plenty of physicality, trash talk, and big plays.

And it's no wonder why. These two teams have a recent history. Former Wizards head coach Randy Wittman allegedly called Jae Crowder soft last season. This season, the Wizards dressed in all black in a win over the Celtics. The following matchup, Crowder and John Wall got into it after the game leading to both players being fined. Monday, both teams once again played a physical style of play with emotions running high throughout.

"It was pretty cool," Thomas told reporters of the game. "I like it. I like those types of games. We knew it was going to be like that. Those guys don't like us; we don't like them. That's what it is."

The Celtics came out on top this time, extending their lead over the Wizards in the Eastern Conference to 2.5 games, while trailing the Cavaliers by 2 games.

Though there's still plenty of time for teams to move around in the standings (could Boston finish as the No. 1 seed?) if things stay the way they are, the C's and Wizards would face each other in the second round, assuming both would make it there.

“Good old fashioned basketball" is how Crowder described Monday’s game. Celtics fans who grew up watching games in the old Boston Garden won't put it anywhere near that level. But add a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals to the mix and buckle up.

Playoff basketball is coming

 
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