With just 15 games remaining in their NBA regular season, it is officially “Standings Watch” in Boston.
Heading into Wednesday’s slate of games, the Celtics currently have a half-game lead for the No. 2 seed over the Wizards (who they’ll host on Monday).
They went into Tuesday just two games behind the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, though Cleveland had played two less games than the C’s before their Tuesday night game against the Pistons.
And then of course there is Toronto, a team that is 3-1 against the Celtics this season but without All-Star Kyle Lowry for the time being, and three games behind Boston in the fourth spot.
So while fans pour over the standings, upcoming games, potential matchups, and everything in between . . . are the Celtics themselves doing the same?
That depends on who you ask.
Jae Crowder doesn’t concern himself too much with where the Celtics are, but he was quick to (playfully) throw his teammate Isaiah Thomas under the bus after Sunday’s victory over the Bulls.
Thomas, according to Crowder, was upset that the Wizards had passed the Celtics in the standings after their loss in Denver.
The following day, Thomas admitted as much to reporters, saying that he looks at them “every chance I can”.
You can understand why Thomas keeps an eye on things.
Last year, the C’s got stuck with a tough first-round playoff matchup against a Hawks team that seems to have their number. Boston stumbled down the regular-season stretch and ended up as the No. 5 seed, beginning the playoffs on the road and dropping the first two games before losing in six.
If Thomas has anything to do with things, that won’t happen this season.
And it’s not that the Celtics are a bad road team, either. In fact, they have the best road record in the Eastern Conference, four games above .500 (20-16). But when you take a look at how the rest of the Eastern Conference fares on the road, you can see why a top seed is so important.
The Wizards are actually below .500, at 15-16, while the Raptors are 17-17. Head down to current the 6-8 seeds, and it gets uglier. The Pacers are 11-22, the Pistons 11-21, and the Bucks 12-18.
Only the Cavaliers (17-15) and Hawks (18-15) have a road record above .500 right now.
So, the Celtics play well on the road. Hopefully this next stat won’t bother you then: Of the C’s final 15 games, only five of them are on the road.
Of course, that shouldn’t bother you. The more home cooking down the stretch, the better. And for Boston, it doesn’t get any closer to home than 10 home games and all 15 games played in the same time zone.
So with all of their core players returning to health coupled with a relatively easy schedule to finish off the regular season, things are setting up nicely for Celtics playoff run.
The question remains: Do they have it in them?