I obviously have to preface this blog that this reported plan for the 8 game regular season is still a work in progress and as I've already broken down earlier today has some issues that need to be resolved. But we're going to pretend that the 8 game schedule the Celtics would have as of this moment is what will actually happen. As the day has gone on I've thought a lot about what this idea means for the Celts and their chances and how this final 8 game stretch will not only potentially impact their seeding, but also what it will do to prepare them for that playoff run.
For those who haven't seen, we're talking about a schedule that goes in this order: MIL/WSH/TOR/BKN/WSH/MEM/POR/MIA. There could be some out there that see that slate and think "damn, that's a lot of good teams...Celts got boned a little bit". I couldn't disagree more. I love how this could potentially shake out and here's why. I don't know about any of you, but I'm invested in this thing to see this team one day reach the top of the mountain. In order to do that, you have to beat good teams. I love this schedule because it's going to be hard. I see a MIL team that doesn't have much to play for but is always a measuring stick game. Every game against MIL will always matter a whole lot for both sides. Then I see a battle with TOR, a team you may face in the second round and someone who is going to be motivated to defend their title. That's another good test. The Nets just walked into TD Garden and LeVert dropped 50 on them. Perhaps by this game Kyrie is back. Who doesn't love that? You then have your Washington games that will test your defense against a high powered offense. I want them to get those reps in now so they are ready once the playoffs start and have to defend some pretty damn good shooters. The Grizzlies are most likely going to still be in their seeding battle once we get to Game 6 of 8. You're going to be seeing a good team who is going to scratch and claw and play with playoff intensity. That's about as good a playoff tuneup as you can have. Everything I just said could also be true for POR. They have the motivation of a playoff game, an elite guard scorer in Dame/CJ, and good size with Collins and Nurkic back. These are all things I want exposure to before the playoffs. I didn't forget that Marcus sneaky struggled guarding scoring guards this season. I want to see Jaylen defend elite talent without fouling. Show me you can handle size. And finally there's MIA, who could be battling YOU for seeding come Game 8. Another Eastern Conference competitor that at times throws out wacky zones and different defenses. Wouldn't hurt to get one last look at those before the real thing either in my opinion.
So you see, if you want the Celtics to go on a deep run this postseason, having a schedule like they do will give us a better idea if they can. We'll know if they can hang or not coming off this hiatus. If they played nothing but dogshit teams for like 5 of their 8 games, we wouldn't know anything about how prepared they might be. I think this paints a better picture.
Here's how they broke down during the season against each one of these teams
All in all you're looking at a 9-5 record. Now obviously all those games weren't always situations where both sides were at full health like they are now, but this is a collection of teams the Celts have held their own against. Their win over MIL everyone played, same with their first win over TOR. It's a decent sample.
If the Celtics are going to be serious about winning a title in this weird year, they need to prove it and beating good teams heading into the playoffs would be a good first step. I want this team challenged with no room for error. Go 6-2 or better and my brain is going to go to dangerous places, especially if those losses are close. Buckle up.