The Celtics played one of their best games of the season on Wednesday night after a last second shot by Evan Turner to snag a win from the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. That game was the final game before the All-Star festivities and also the last game before the trade deadline on February 19th. After that game, the Celtics feel that they have a real chance at making the playoffs and to make a lot of noise. A lot of the players have shared their feelings on how making the playoffs this season is a real possibility.
“I think our main thing is it’s not as hard as it seems, especially being in the Eastern Conference,” said Gerald Wallace. “The way it’s set up, a long winning streak can put you in a great position. I think it would be interesting a fun for a lot of the young guys to experience that, to know what it’s really like to play basketball in the NBA.”
I have the exact same opinion and the answer is very simple. The young players would gain valuable postseason experience that could end up paying off when the Celtics start making the playoffs consistently. Sure, having to execute plays in the closing minutes of games builds character, but there’s simply nothing like a playoff experience. It will give the team a chance to see who can really shine under more pressure. Stars are often made in the playoffs, just remember Kevin Garnett’s infamous “this is where the plastic people melt” saying a few years back.
Another optimistic view on making the playoffs for the Celtics could end up making a huge difference for the upcoming free agent class this summer whether or not to come to Boston next season. Free agents obviously do not want to sign with a team that isn’t producing wins. They would much rather sign with an already contending team or with a team that is on the come-up. This could end up really mattering for Danny Ainge, who is going to have $40 million in cap space to spend in free agency this upcoming summer.
In the midst of a major roster overhaul, the Celtics have remained afloat within a crowded race at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race. With the Celtics and five other teams bunched up within two games of each other in the standings, it’s still anyone’s guess as to who will escape with the #7 and #8 seeds in the Eastern Conference. That’s not bad for a team that started 9-14 prior to the Rondo trade. The Celtics have started to really gel in recent games as they’ve won 7 of their last 12 games. The Celtics had a better-than-expected west coast trip as they went 3-3 including beating Portland on another last second shot by Evan Turner.
The playoffs are becoming more and more realistic for the Celtics and it would be a huge motivator for this team going forward. Just look where the Atlanta Hawks are now, they made the playoffs last season as a 38-44 team and are now a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. I envision the same success in Boston.