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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

If the Playoffs Started Today: The Celtics Would Be In & the Bruins Would Be Out, Wait What?

There are 12 games left in the 2014-15 regular season, but somehow the Celtics (31-39 overall, 13-22 away) have hung around long enough to put themselves in a good position to make the postseason. Boston won 110-91 tonight at Barclays Center vs. Brooklyn (29-40 overall, 12-20 home) to take a 1.5 games lead on the hosts. The C's picked the perfect time to snap their three-game losing streak since Charlotte and Indiana both also lost. Boston went up half a game on Charlotte and one game on Indiana for the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference.

Evan Turner was the catalyst in the victory with his second triple-double (19 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) as a Celtic. It was a very balanced night of scoring for Boston as six guys scored in double-figures. Avery Bradley led the way with 20 points and seven rebounds while Tyler Zeller had 18 points and seven rebounds then Brandon Bass notched 12 points, five rebounds and two steals.

Other than Turner, the story of the game for the C's was Kelly Olynyk's 18 points and five rebounds off the bench. He had been in a major shooting slump so it was nice to see him hit three of the five 3-pointers that he attempted. Jonas Jerebko had 10 points and six rebounds with Jae Crowder putting up nine points and five rebounds. Not surprisingly with those numbers, Boston's bench outscored Brooklyn's 39-28.

The Nets were led by Brook Lopez's game-high 31 points. There with a couple problems with that though since seven (!) different Celtics had more rebounds than him (4). Furthermore, only two other Nets scored in double-figures: Thaddeus Young (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Deron Williams (10 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds). Lopez had a great night but clearly just dumping the ball down to him mostly on the low post meant that nobody else on Brooklyn could really get going or even touch the ball.

Brooklyn led 28-23 after the first quarter but then Boston slowly took over. The Celtics outscored the Nets by 10 (31-21) in the second quarter to take a 54-49 lead into the break. Despite playing their second game of a back-to-back, the Celts looked like the fresher team as they took the third quarter (29-25) and truthfully the Nets might have given up in the fourth (27-17).

The Celtics shot 15.1% better from the field (51.1%-36%), hit five more 3-pointers (6-1) and dished out 10 more assists than the Nets (25-15). Boston wrapped up the season series with Brooklyn 3-1 (their only loss was by 2 points the day after Christmas).

Up next, the C's take on the Heat (32-37) on Wednesday (7:30, CSN) at TD Garden. Miami is ahead of Boston by 1.5 games but that will change shortly as the Heat travel to Milwaukee tomorrow night before coming to Boston. So if they lose to the Bucks, a Celtics win vs. Miami would leave them tied for seventh-place in the East.

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