Hey everyone – I’m new here at DraftKings, so I figured I’d take a quick second to introduce myself before we jump into it. My name’s Julian Edlow, and I’m a Boston based sports writer arriving to DK from a position covering the Celtics as a blogger/reporter. Obviously, as a featured writer on the Playbook blog, my content is going to be expanding – you guys will be hearing from me pretty much daily, voicing my opinions on any and all topics in sports.
We’ve got plenty of time to get to all those topics, but one of the cool parts about this job is that I get to pick what I feel like writing about. So, guess what? We’re getting my Celtics out of the way first, because the path their season has taken has been somewhat remarkable
If you live outside of New England, I wouldn’t be surprised if the only two things you know about the C’s season is that they traded Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green away. Boston has been on national television a grand total of zero times so far this season, so why would you know anything else?
When Rondo was moved, the only thing that was supposed to get better for the Celtics was the fact that reporters wouldn’t have to sit around in the locker room for an extra 45 minutes waiting for Rondo to grace everyone with his presence and give snarky answers to some questions. The moves the Celtics have made so far would make it appear on the surface as though they are “tanking.”
But since adding Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko and even Gigi Datome (there’s some names for you if you need a stretch play in DFS), this unit has rallied around Brad Stevens to make a serious playoff push – and started conducting much more friendly interviews.
ESPN finally picked up a Celts game in Detroit next week. NBA fans should probably be able to get at least one look at a team that they might see battle into late April or even early May. I’m not willing to go past that, but they can give a team like Atlanta a run for its money if they land the 8th seed. When you really look at the Hawks, the Celtics aren’t all that much different. Boston just isn’t as polished as Atlanta yet, having just put its roster in order less than six weeks ago.
This same Hawks team in their first year under coach Mike Budenholzer finished 38-44 last season. That record was good for 8th place in the east – the same seed these Celtics are battling for right now. That Hawks team was playing their best basketball of the season at the right time, taking the top seeded Pacers all the way to a game 7 before falling. The C’s are 18-11 since February 2nd, including a buzzer-beating win in Boston over the Hawks (thanks to an Evan Turner floater) to head into the All-Star break on a high note.
Boston’s playing their best basketball at the right time, and they’re going to have to keep doing so. After a huge pair of wins against the Hornets and Pacers on Monday and Wednesday respectively, the Celtics will host the Bucks on Friday – all three of those opponents are competing for the final spots in the East as well.
The C’s 34-41 record has them right in the battle for one of the final three playoff spots in the East (which shows us why the NBA needs to consider abolishing conferences so that the Pelicans and Suns can sniff the playoffs, but this debate is for another day). If the Celtics do land the final playoff spot, there’s no reason they can’t be last season’s Hawks and take this season’s Hawks all the way to a game 7 before bowing out.
Which makes the real question this: Can next season’s Celtics be this season’s Hawks? Follow all that? With Stevens at the helm and Danny Ainge keeping an eye on all options when it comes to his roster, they just might have a shot to be a big surprise in 2015-16.