Ten Games Left for the Celtics


The NBA regular season is about to come to an end.  Teams all across the league are entering the home stretch.  Boston is starring down the tunnel and the light is beaming from the other side.  The Celtics only have 10 games left.  These final 10 games will not be easy.  Boston will have some challenging games on the schedule starting with Saturday’s matchup with playoff hungry Charlotte Hornets.

photo courtesy of bostonsportsjournal.com
As things stand now it seems most likely that Boston will finish with either the fourth or fifth seed in the playoffs.  The best Boston can realistically finish is third.  But after the loss to the Sixers this week, their chances of even landing that number three seed is becoming less likely.  Whether they finish with the third seed or not, these last ten games are important.  Getting home court advantage in the first round can be crucial.  I mean, I don’t know if they would have defeated the Bucks last year if they didn’t have the home court advantage.  In the playoffs you want home games.

With the regular season coming to an end I think there a few key narratives that are worth monitoring.  This stretch of games will prove to be some of the most important on this year’s schedule.  It’s definitely a good thing that the C’s will be in the playoffs, but there is still so much to play out.  Get ready for a very entertaining finish.

Scale back Irving’s minutes

Kyrie said himself that he doesn’t want to play big minutes.  Even though I do think it will be beneficial for the team to restrict Irving’s minutes, his tone makes me want to see Brad play him every minute of every single one of the final 10 games.  It is what it is at this point.  The Celtics are going to head into the post season as a middle seed.  I don’t believe there is any point to running Kyrie or any other of the veterans too much down the stretch.  I think the best way to do it wouldn’t be to have Irving sit out games.  But maybe keep him on the bench for a quarter or even a half.  The road to a championship is going to be a lot bumpier than fans expected when the season started.  Fact of the matter is Boston needs every bit of Irving’s talent if they are going to make a run.

Can Hayward get right?

It doesn’t take much to see that Gordon Hayward wasn’t himself this entire season.  He has averaged around 11 points a game, a standard far below what Hayward is used to.  But who could blame him?  After suffering the traumatic injury that he did I imagine just getting through the whole season is a victory.  But now that the playoffs are right around the corner, it is time for Hayward to elevate his game.  Stephens and his staff need to watch Hayward play so he can see if he is healthy enough to really help this squad when it matters most.  He has been dealing with a concussion as of late and you can’t joke around with head injuries.  If he’s not able to perform in the postseason that would be two years already basically wasted on his massive contract.  Personally, I am pulling for Gordon.  Let’s hope he can be ready to go come playoff time.

Will the Celtics find that “magic” that they possessed last year?

Shop for official Boston Celtics team gear and authentic collectibles at NBAStore.comBoston found some magic in last year’s postseason.  Even with Irving and Hayward sidelined the Celtic’s young core were one win away from representing the East in the NBA Finals.  They played with swag and provided electric moments.  Remember how crazy everyone went when Tatum dunked on LeBron?  These young players were able to generate a hype that was so great it led the entire basketball world to believe that this was the next great team, like the Warriors of the Eastern Conference.  Things didn’t go as swimmingly as expected this season for the C’s.  Who knows, maybe they can harness that same type of magic for these last 10 games and beyond. 

Is the pressure getting to them?

There is no question that the 2018-2019 season has been stressful for the team.  Since day one of training camp there has been pressure to win.  During the team’s media day questions about challenging the Warriors for a championship seemed like a given.  Even the players started to believe the hype.  Talks about winning multiple championships were mentioned to the media.  Such hype can put a lot of pressure on a team that, beside Kyrie Irving, had zero Final’s experience. 

Throughout the season, and more specifically since the All-Star break, players have seemed to let out some of their frustrations.  Kyrie Irving has done it through his comments in the media, and I think Marcus Smart displayed a little of the built up emotion in Boston’s last game.  Even though it was awesome watching Smart launch Joel Embiid across the court, it was still dumb.  Given the magnitude of that game he never should have lost his cool like that.  The Celtics need Smart on the floor and not in the locker room when they are battling for home court advantage in the first round.  There is still time for the players to get their heads on straight and gear up for a deep playoff run.

Take care of business (twice) against the Pacers

Boston is competing with Indiana for home court advantage.  The two teams will still face off two more times before the season concludes.  They have played each other twice already and the season series is split one to one.  There is a lot on the line in these two games against the Pacers.

Speaking of Boston’s main competition for seeding in the final ten games, Celtics fans are going to want to cheer against the Philadelphia 76er’s and the Pacers.  Philadelphia is sitting in a very good spot right now.  They currently own a four game lead for the number three seed.  Another thing that the Sixers have going for them is their schedule.  Out of their final ten games they only face four teams that are currently in or are still fighting for a chance in the postseason.  It will take some luck for the Celtics to pass Philadelphia.

Indiana and Boston are both going to have to battle their way to the finish line.  The Celtics face eight teams in or fighting for a playoff berth and the Pacer face nine!  Some say that these tough games to close out the season will help get the team ready to compete in the playoffs.  I would typically agree with that sentiment, but this may be a different situation.  Due to their tough schedule, they may start Game One of the playoffs on the road.

Boston can still right the ship and head into the postseason with a bunch of momentum.  Ten games is a good enough amount to get things flowing.  I guess if this team has the ability to “flip the switch” now would be a fantastic time to do so.  Let’s go Celtics, finish strong. 

Follow Matt on Twitter @Matty_wests1de

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Ten Games Left for the Celtics
Ten Games Left for the Celtics
Boston Sports Syndicate
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