If the Boston Celtics can win at least four of their remaining seven games, they’ll have a legit shot at taking over the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but they’ll need a little help along the way.
When the Celtics and the Toronto Raptors tip-off on Saturday night at the TD Garden, the C’s will be trailing the Raptors by three games for the top spot in the East with seven games remaining for each team.
Out of the seven games remaining for Brad Stevens and the Celtics, four are against playoff contenders and three are against three of the four worst teams in the East.
And six games out of seven of the Raptors’ games are against playoff contenders, with one against the fourteenth worst team in the East.
Saturday night’s game marks the first of two games against the Raptors over the next five days, with the second set for Wednesday night in Toronto.
So with that being said, lets look ahead to the remaining matchups for each team just to show you that there’s a possibility that the C’s can make a push for the top spot.
For the Celtics to move up the standings, they’ll essentially need to win at least one of two against the Raptors. But ideally the Celtics need to win both games to really increase their odds of moving up the standings.
Right now the magic number for the streaking Celtics to lock down the number two spot in the East is one. They just completed a four-game West Coast sweep and they’re currently riding a five-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s game.
The final stretch for the Celtics includes games against the following:
- Toronto Raptors (#1 @ 55-20) – Season Record: 1-1
- @ Milwaukee Bucks (#8 @ 40-35) – Season Record: 2-1
- @ Toronto Raptors (#1 @ 55-20) – Season Record: 1-1
- Chicago Bulls (#13 @ 24-51) – Season Record: 2-1
- Bulls are riding a seven game losing streak.
- Atlanta Hawks (#15 @ 21-54) – Season Record: 3-0
- Hawks are riding a four game losing streak.
- @ Washington Wizards (#6 @ 41-34) – Season Record: 1-2
- Celtics won in overtime and lost in double overtime earlier in the year.
- Brooklyn Nets (#12 @ 24-51) – Season Record: 3-0
NOTE: Celtics are 24-13 at the Garden and hold the East’s best road record at 28-10.
Knock on wood, but judging by the remaining games, the Celtics should win at least three more games.
If the Celtics can get a win against the Raptors, Bucks or Hawks, the dreams of having home court advantage throughout the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoffs can become a reality. But that can only happen if the Raptors can somehow lose at least four of their remaining games.
Coming into Saturday’s game the Raptors are 14-3 over their last 17 games, which includes an 11-game winning streak.
The final stretch for the Raptors includes games against the following:
- @ Boston Celtics (#2 @ 52-23) – Season Record: 1-1
- Celtics are riding a five-game winning streak.
- @ Cleveland Cavaliers (#3 @ 45-30) – Season Record: 1-1
- Boston Celtics (#2 @ 52-23) – Season Record: 1-1
- Indiana Pacers (#5 @ 45-31) – Season Record: 2-1
- Pacers are riding a four-game winning streak.
- Orlando Magic (#14 @ 22-52) – Season Record: 2-0
- @ Detroit Pistons (#9 @ 35-40) – Season Record: 3-0
- Pistons are riding a three-game winning streak in a push for the eighth spot.
- @ Miami Heat (#7 @ 41-35) – Season Record: 1-1
NOTE: Raptors are the East’s best home team at 31-7 and are 24-13 on the road for second best.
The Raptors clearly have a tougher schedule down the final stretch of the season. But if everything goes to plan for Toronto, they’re good at least two more wins.
Both teams have been hot of late thanks to the play of some key players and the up-tick of intensity on both ends of the court.
This season DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are averaging a combined 39.9 points on 44.6 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from three for the Raptors.
Despite Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Daniel Thies being out, and Marcus Morris, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and others missing time, the Celtics still continue to win.
Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier have really stepped up their game over the C’s last nine games.
Brown is averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists on an impressive 51 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three in 26.5 minutes on the floor.
Tatum is averaging 17.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 41.4 percent from three through 33 minutes.
“Scary Terry” is averaging 17.7 points on 38.1 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from three to go along with 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 34.7 minutes-per-game.
Just remember Green Teamers…
UP NEXT: The Celtics (52-23) welcome the Toronto Raptors (55-20) to the TD Garden on Saturday night for a game that has huge playoff implications. The Raptors are 14-3 over their last 17, and have won an impressive 11-straight during that same span. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:00 p.m., with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.
— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.