The Celtics hold a record of 42-17, good for 1st in the NBA at the All Star break. Simple math tells us that there are 23 games left in the regular season. I asked our staff to weigh in with their predictions for the team’s final record and seeding. Here are the answers (feel free to add your own in the comments):
I have the Celtics finishing as the 1 seed with a final record of 58-24, 1 game ahead of the Bucks at 57-25. The Bucks have a fairly challenging stretch after the all-star break with 8 of their first 11 games against the Heat, Suns (x2), Nets (x2), 76ers, Warriors, and Kings. Ultimately, the 1 seed will likely come down to the winner of the Bucks-Celtics game on March 30th. The Bucks will be at home, but they also play at Indiana the night before. Celtics win that game and hold on to the 1 seed.
I think the Bucks and Celtics will both finish 58-24 and the #1 seed will be decided with their final regular season matchup of the year. I wouldn’t blame the Celtics for continuing to cycle around minutes, no need to put too heavy of a load on the main guys heading into the playoffs. One minor thing that could flip things is Giannis’ wrist injury. He has the ASB to recover, but wrist injuries can be annoying and linger (i.e Tatum). If the Bucks have to give him a few games off down the stretch, could change the formula. (edited)
The Celtics are on pace to win 58 games, and that seems about right to me. They’re going to err on the side of caution when it comes to rest days injury management (much to Jayson Tatum’s chagrin), so I’m not sure I see them accelerating to 60-win pace after the break. The Bucks are breathing down their necks in the Eastern Conference standings, but if Milwaukee wasn’t able to hurdle the Celtics during this stretch of injuries, I’m not sure they’re going to be able to do it as the lineup returns to full health. The playoffs go through Boston this postseason.
I say the Celtics go 17-6, finish 59-23 and tie with the Bucks for first in the East. The Celtics win the final regular-season matchup between the two and get the 1-seed as a result. They’re finally getting close to full strength, and their schedule is relatively easy the rest of the way.
The Celtics will surge out of the all star break and finish 61-21. The Celtics (outside of Tatum’s load) have paced themselves almost perfectly, prioritizing health and rest for their older and more injury prone players. They’re poised for a dominant stretch as they hurtle toward the playoffs.
I think they finish 60-22 and secure the 1 seed. The C’s have shown a level of intensity this entire season that illustrates to me their desire to be the number one seed. I think they’ll finish strong, especially given how well the “others” have been playing recently. It should only be up from here.
According to Tankathon.com, the Celtics have the NBA’s 10th-most difficult remaining schedule, based on combined winning percentage of opponents. They also will be on the road for 13 of their final 23 games, including a six-game road trip in March. Will those be problems? They shouldn’t be. Boston is 21-10 vs. teams currently at or above .500 (second best in the league, one-half game behind the 20-8 Bucks). For away games, the Cs have the most road wins (18, tied with the Clippers) and the fewest losses (10) in the NBA. So it says here that the Celtics will maintain their league-best winning percentage (.712) and finish at 58-24. That should be enough for the top seed in the East and, we hope, the entire league.
58-24, 1 seed: Two Pacers, two Jazz, two Trail Blazers, plus a Rockets, Spurs and Wizards game already put the Celtics on the path to win nine of their final 23 games if they take care of business. Two additional wins over the Hawks, at least one from the Raptors series, one 76ers, Cavaliers and Knicks game, plus the Nets and T-Wolves games give the C’s 17 more wins, realistically, before including the result of the final Bucks game. Factor in maybe one or two load management or schedule losses on top of that, and the Celtics should win 57-58 games, making that Mar. 30 matchup in Milwaukee the deciding factor in the race for the one seed. So far, it looks like if the Celtics are healthy for that game, they’ll win it.
60-22 with the one seed. After racing out to an extremely hot start, the Celtics hit a bit of a rough patch in the middle of their season. But with Marcus Smart back, Derrick White playing at an All-Star level, and Jaylen Brown set to return with his masked persona, things are looking up. If they can re-find their offensive flow and combine it with the elite-level defense that they’ve now established, they could go on a rampage to end the season. They have the 76ers, Knicks (twice), Cavaliers (twice), and Nets all within their first seven games coming out of the break. If those games go well, they should be able to storm through the rest of the year.
I think Boston will finish 59-23 and seal the 1st seed of the East. Based on the way they’ve been playing, the return of Marcus Smart and (eventually) Jaylen Brown, plus the resurgence of Sam Hauser and addition of Mike Muscala, I have faith they can finish 17-6 in their remaining 23 games. With Milwaukee lurking, Boston will have to pick and choose their days to rest some starters, but I think that’s a reasonable record to expect.
My heart says that we’ll finish with over 60 wins and the 1 seed. My head says that there are still bumps in the road coming up and we could finish with as few as 56 wins. Experience tells me that both my heart and head are morons, so without anything more scientific, I could split the difference and say that they finish with 58 wins. However, just to be different from the responses above, I’ll go conservative with 57 wins. The more important thing is the seed. I tend to think that the Celtics will do just enough to keep the Bucks and other competitors in the rear view mirror and hang onto the first seed. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.