The Boston Celtics are now 38-26, and despite Saturday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there are still those out there who believe they at least have a chance to make a run for a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference.
Months ago, this wasn’t something we’d have even entertained.
But 16-5 in the last 21 games will do that to a team. As it stands, the Eastern Conference looks like this: Cleveland, Toronto, and Boston.
But is that the order it will finish in? Can Boston realistically get to the No. 2 – or even the top seed before the season ends?
Let’s take a look.
It’s hard to remember a No. 1 seed with more drama surrounding them than the Cavaliers. We’re talking about a team that, despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference, fired their head coach in David Blatt earlier this season.
Tyronn Lue, an assistant with zero head coaching experience, replaced him. That’s not to say Lue can’t handle the job, but everybody knows LeBron James had a huge part in this move.
And speaking of James, what’s going on with him and Cleveland right now? Pictures surfaced last week of him training in Miami with Dwyane Wade.
That was followed by a series of Tweets from him bound to make Cavs fans nervous: “It’s OK to know you’ve made a mistake. Cause we all do at times. Just be ready to live with whatever comes with it and be with those who will protect you at all cost. Can't replace being around great friends that reciprocate the same energy back to you in all facets of life.”
James wouldn’t comment on the tweets. Classic.
The Cavs are undoubtedly talented. But can they stick together? You get the sense the wheels could easily fall off.
And if that happens, the Raptors and Celtics will be waiting.
But if there’s any movement in the current order of the East’s top three teams, it will be the Raptors passing the Cavaliers for the top seed.
The Raptors check off just about every category you want from a winning team: Stars at the top, depth in the middle, health, home-court advantage, and team chemistry.
It starts with Toronto’s two-headed monster in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who combine to average 45.2 points per game. Jonas Valanciunas mans the middle, and players like Terrence Ross, James Johnson and Luis Scola add plenty of depth.
Then there’s this: the Raptors big offseason signing and best defender DeMarre Carroll is set to return in a few weeks. Carroll has played in just five games since Dec. 7, and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery back in January.
So, sorry Celtics fans: there could be movement at the top of the East, but it might not include the C’s.
It could, however, make for an interesting second round battle against our good friend LeBron James.