The Celtics’ regular season came to an end with a blowout Sunday night, as the C’s took down the Grizzlies 139-110 in Memphis. With the win, the Celtics secured their spot as the second seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2022 NBA playoffs. They’ll also finish the regular season with a 51-31 record, their most wins since winning 55 games in 2017-2018.
Entering the game, the Celtics could have finished anywhere from the second to the fourth seed. With playoff placement on the line, the team wasted no time getting started. They led 32-25 after one quarter, then ran the score up further by scoring 40 points in the second quarter alone. By halftime, Boston led 72-49 thanks in large part to 26 first half points from Jayson Tatum (he’d finish with a game-high 31). With the game comfortably in hand, Ime Udoka turned to the bench for much of the second half.
Next up for the Celtics will be finding out who their first-round opponent will be. That will be decided on Tuesday, when the Brooklyn Nets host the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first Eastern Conference play-in game. The winner of that game will get the seven seed, and face the Celtics in a series that will begin either Saturday or Sunday in Boston.
A series against Brooklyn would be a rematch of the first round last season. At that time, the seventh-seeded Celtics came into the series banged up and lost in five games to a juggernaut Nets team. This time around, it would be the Nets limping into the playoffs after a disappointing and injury-filled season, while the Celtics may be one of the hottest teams in the league.
Of course, the Celtics would still have to handle Nets superstar Kevin Durant, who only played 54 games this year due to a knee injury. Such a series would also set up another return to Boston for former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.
Meanwhile, Cleveland is a young team starting to turn the corner. Their top four scorers are all 24 years old or younger. All-star guard Darius Garland leads the team averaging 21.8 points per game. This series would also see a former Celtics point guard return to Boston, as Rajon Rondo was traded to Cleveland at the trade deadline this year.