NBA Power Rankings Week 16: The Celtics Are Still A Finals Contender

02.05.19 5 months ago

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It’s been a weird season for the Boston Celtics. Even before the floodgates opened with regard to trade buzz involving Anthony Davis and, by proxy, Kyrie Irving‘s free agency, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Brad Stevens’ team.

Boston entered the 2018-19 campaign with exceptionally lofty aspirations, with Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the fold after season-ending injuries to go along with the presumed development of young guns like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, the Celtics opened the season with a 10-10 record and, after bouncing back, slipped to a modest 25-18 mark in mid-January. At that point, Boston trailed Indiana (by four games) and Philadelphia (by three games) in the standings and looked to be potentially heading for a first-round series in which they would not have home-court advantage.

Since then, however, the Celtics are 9-1 with a +10.7 net rating in an impressive run. It is worth noting that the schedule has been quite cooperative for Boston but, in the same breath, the team’s only defeat in the last ten games came (by four points) at the hands of the Warriors and the Celtics do have victories over the Raptors and Thunder along the way. Following that uptick, Boston now sits in a tie for the No. 3 seed in the East with Philadelphia, and there is reason to believe that the team many expected may be arriving at the perfect time.

It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that the Celtics could chase down the Bucks and Raptors for a top-two seed in the East and that might put Boston behind the eight-ball when it comes to the postseason. Still, it helps that Boston is being led by Irving in the midst of a career-best season and, despite the swirling distractions about his future with the organization, the talented point guard gives the Celtics a chance every single night with his ability to explode offensively.

Gone are the days in which 60 wins seemed possible for the Celtics but, as the All-Star break nears, Boston is quietly in great shape and thoroughly dangerous. Where do the Celtics land in this week’s DIME power rankings? Let’s explore the space.

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