As of right now, the No. 2 Boston Celtics project to face the No. 7 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now, do the Celtics — and their fans — want to see the Cavaliers in the playoffs?
Let us take a look into the craziness of the top and bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture:
- 1. Miami 51-28
- 2. Boston 49-30 (2 GB)
- 3. Milwaukee 48-30 (2.5 GB)
- 4. Philadelphia 48-30 (2.5 GB)
The top four are very jumbled, especially No. 2 through No. 4.
Now, how about the play-in tournament teams?
- 7. Cleveland 43-36 (8 GB)
- 8. Atlanta 41-37 (9.5 GB)
- 9. Charlotte 40-38 (10.5 GB)
- 10. Brooklyn 40-38 (10.5 GB)
The jockeying for positions will be very interesting when it gets down to it:
The NBA Standings after Sunday!
The 76ers have clinched a spot in the #NBAPlayoffs presented by Google Pixel.https://t.co/xhCSbzNSi7 pic.twitter.com/78Xy2FOlVB
— NBA (@NBA) April 4, 2022
The NBA took a day off on Monday for the NCAA Tournament championship game.
The Hornets and Nets get back to the court Tuesday, and fortunately for them, they are not in danger of falling out of the play-in tournament.
However, one of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference may be unlucky enough to take on the Nets.
With the Hawks, Hornets, and Nets all one game apart, no one knows where any of those teams will land after 82 games.
In addition, the Cavaliers have a slight chance of making it out of the play-in tournament.
At this point, all Celtics fans know the goal is to avoid the Nets in the first round.
So, what teams should Boston want to face?
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
In 2022, the Celtics are a combined 7-2 against the play-in tournament teams.
They have won their last two games each against the Hawks, Cavaliers, and Hornets.
Boston also has three consecutive wins against the Nets.
However, Brooklyn is not one of the desired opponents.
The Cavaliers are just not as strong of a team in terms of star power in comparison to the Nets or Hawks.
Trae Young is finding his shooting rhythm at the perfect time of the year, so Boston would prefer Cleveland.
Also, Evan Mobley is still out with an ankle injury and Jarrett Allen is out with a fractured finger.
Both of these injuries continue to hobble Cleveland.
Also, the Cavaliers have run-of-the-mill shooting as well as poor offensive efficiency and turnover percentage.
A Celtics matchup with the Cavaliers would be beneficial.
1. Charlotte Hornets
While the Hornets would be excited to get revenge for Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, Charlotte is the most desired opponent for Boston.
The Celtics’ record against the Hornets is 3-1 this season.
The Hornets began the season 26-19 when Hayward played.
Both the Celtics and Hornets have changed a lot since then.
When Charlotte won its 26th game of the season, the Hornets were 3.5 games better in the standings than the Celtics.
Boston was 23-24 at the time.
The Celtics would be benefitted from a matchup with the Hornets.
Charlotte is among the worst in the league in defensive efficiency and defensive rebounding.
The Hornets also do not get to the free throw line much.
If the Celtics do not have Robert Williams III in the first round of the playoffs, they will need a team that cannot rebound against them.
The Hornets are that team.
Williams’ backup Daniel Theis just celebrated his 30th birthday, and he will become increasingly important for Boston:
Happy birthday @dtheis10 ☘️🎂🎉 pic.twitter.com/OQNZw56jel
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 4, 2022
The NBA playoffs are quickly approaching, and Boston has a couple of good options for the first round.
If Theis can step up for the Celtics while Williams gets ready to return, it could be a long postseason run for Boston.