The Boston Celtics took outright control of the number one seed in the Eastern Conference this week for the first time since 2011. They took the top spot from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are an uncharacteristic 5-5 in their last 10 games and losers of their last two. With all that’s going wrong with Cleveland right now, the Cavs are sitting a half game back of Boston. But, in my opinion, Celtics fans are getting a little too excited about the team pulling a half-game ahead of the second seed. I have never seen such excitement from a fan base over something that really doesn’t matter.
A championship is not in the Celtics’ future this year, next year or even the year after that because of the talent all over the league. Instead of trading assets for superstar players, the Celtics seem to be waiting for all of their players to develop. They’re working to build a core rather than trade for one. This is the exact opposite of the strategy they used to win the championship in 2008. It’s easy to be negative and complain if the team doesn’t win the NBA title, so what would I consider a successful season for the C’s? If the Celtics are the first, second or third seed, they avoid playing Cleveland until the Eastern Conference finals; that would be a success. Their playoff expectations are simple: if they are as well coached and talented as everyone makes them out to be, then the Eastern Conference finals should be their goal.
If you believe that once they reach the East finals that they can beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 4 out of 7 times, you need to come back to Earth. They aren’t ready to beat Cleveland. This whole year has been overachieving and eventually it’ll catch up to them. A first round series win is what I expect; after that, I’m not sure. Isaiah Thomas’ postseason play and head coach Brad Stevens playoff coaching doesn’t have me sold that the Celts can make it out of the second round. NBA regular season basketball is significantly different than NBA postseason basketball. Things become much more difficult come playoff time and we saw that last year with the Celtics as the Atlanta Hawks beat them pretty easily in 6 games. Whether they finish as the number one seed or not, the Celtics should probably win a playoff series before we start talking championships.