It’s all come down to this – well sort of.
The Celtics and Cavaliers are tied atop the Eastern Conference standings with a huge head-to-head matchup tipping off tonight at 8. With just five games left in the regular season the winner tonight will likely enter the postseason as the one-seed.
Over the course of the season Boston has progressed into one of the top 4 teams in the NBA and were ranked as high as third in ESPN’s latest power rankings, a huge step forward from where they entered the season. The Celtics came in with playoff aspirations but were still in the midst of a rebuild. The Isaiah Thomas led crew has overachieved all season and are now in uncharted territory – battling the defending champs for first place in the Eastern Conference.
This Celtics team can put a stamp on a historic season with a big performance tonight. Avery Bradley understands his teams opportunity to make a statement.
“We’re playing against a team that’s obviously going to be a contender,” Bradley told the Boston Globe. “It’s our job to go out there and make sure we’re setting our mark now, showing them how we’re going to play, so if we do meet up in the playoffs, they know what to expect.”
The stage is set for the most important regular season game in the Brad Stevens era but Bradley’s comments also alluded to the fact that it doesn’t really all come down to this – just the regular season comes down to this – what it really comes down to is what happens in the playoffs.
Stealing home court advantage from Cleveland would certainly help the Celtics if the two meet in the Eastern Conference Finals; but LeBron has proved that he doesn’t need the top seed to reach the Finals. Whatever statement the Celtics make tonight will be the cherry on top of an outstanding regular season.
It will be for the fans but ultimately it will just be a preview as we get ready for the real season to begin.