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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ultimate Trolling: The Celtics Are Actually Going to Make the Playoffs This Season, Aren't They?

At this point, I would sound like an idiot to ignore the truth that jumps off the screen anytime you tune in: Isaiah Thomas (28 points, 7 assists) has brought so much life to the Celtics that now it looks likely that they'll make the playoffs this season. Boston (23-33 overall, 14-15 home) beat Charlotte (23-33 overall, 10-17 away) 106-98 tonight at TD Garden. That leaves the two teams tied with Brooklyn, mere percentage points behind Indiana (24-34) who is barely hanging onto the eighth spot in the dogshit Eastern Conference.

All season long, I've bitched and complained when the Celtics have won so let me get one thing straight: I'm not changing my tune. It still helps them more to lose and miss out on the postseason this spring but then again, they are unlikely to get a top pick (in a weak draft) since they are so many teams dedicated to tanking so how could it hurt to give head coach Brad Stevens not to mention all these young, inexperienced players a little taste of the playoffs before they get swept by the Hawks, Raptors, Bulls or Cavaliers?

Boston's bench outscored its starters 60-46 led by Thomas and Jonas Jerebko (16 points, 10 rebounds) who has to be the best Swedish basketball player that I've ever seen. Their other recent acquisition Jae Crowder added 14 points and six rebounds while proving to be a versatile defender able to guard all different size guys. Avery Bradley had 19 points and five rebounds including two putback dunks that sealed it. Marcus Smart (10 points) was the only other Celtics starter to score in double-figures.

The Hornets still have some good players but they are lost right now without former UConn star point guard Kemba Walker. Mo Williams had a game-high 31 points and seven rebounds which sounds great but he took 23 shots and only contributed four assists (with three turnovers). Former Celtic Al Jefferson was held in check (14 points, 8 rebounds), Gerald Henderson added 14 points, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) while Tyler's (7 points, 9 rebounds) little brother Cody Zeller notched 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

The Celtics were up 27-21 after the first quarter but the Hornets pulled ahead 49-45 by halftime. Charlotte increased its lead to six going into the fourth (75-69) but Boston scored a season-high 37 points in the final frame and held their opponents to 23.

For the game, Boston hit four more 3-pointers (14-10), dished out five more assists (24-19), scored nine more fast break points (19-10), 10 more points in the paint (38-28) and 13 more points off turnovers (21-8). Charlotte had twice as many turnovers (16-8) as Boston which ultimately killed them.

Sunday night (6, CSN) at the Garden should be fun as the Celtics welcome the best team in the NBA-the Warriors (45-11)-to town. I give Boston a better chance to win than you'd probably expect since that will be Golden State's fifth stop on a six-game road trip (granted they humiliated Toronto 113-89 this evening) and also the fact that the C's nearly shocked them in Golden State a month ago (114-111 loss on Jan. 25). I never thought I'd say this during the Celtics' 2014-15 season but I'm actually really looking forward to that matchup.

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