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Celtics ideal first round matchups


Boston Celtics Logo. Uploaded for commentary.

We are already in April, and that means the NBA playoffs are right around the corner. The Eastern playoff race is extremely close. There is only a four-game difference between the four seed and the 10 seed. To put that into perspective, in the Western Conference, the four seed is a whole nine games away from the 10 seed. That being said, it is not clear what seed the  Boston Celtics will finish, or who they will face. Being that the Celtics haven’t been having a great season, some matchups are obviously better than others. The last thing the Celtics want to do is lose in the first round. These will be the three best matchups the Celtics could face in that first round.

1. Charlotte Hornets 

I think the Hornets would be a perfect first-round opponent for the Celtics. Despite how well they have looked, I am confident that the Celtics could win in a seven-game series. A big part of this is the injuries they are facing. Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball are both currently not playing and will likely not be back till the end of the season. Even if they are back before the playoffs, they would both be starting in the playoffs, and the Celtics know firsthand how long it takes for Hayward to recover from an injury.

That being said, it is very unlikely the Celtics will match up with the Hornets. The Hornets are currently the four seed, and with the injuries, I would expect them to drop a couple of seeds. They might not even be in the playoffs when it’s all said and done. That’s how close the playoff race is in the East.

2. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have also been looking really good this season. However, they don’t match up well with the Celtics. The Hawks have a lot of small guards that will struggle guarding Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, or Evan Fournier in the perimeter. The last time the Celtics played the Hawks, Kemba had one of his best games because he was able to get to his spots, and Young wasn’t able to challenge him. And while they might get away with playing young because of his elite offensive game, Lou will and Bogdonavic are also going to struggle. On the other hand, the Celtics will have trouble with Capela. Capela has been having a great season. He relies on his guard to get him the ball in the right spot to create offense.

3. New York Knicks

It has been a while since the Knicks have been relevant, but this season, they are on track to make the playoffs. The last time the Celtics played the Knicks, the Knicks won. While it might have been closer than they would have liked, the Celtics were missing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier while the Knicks were only missing Mitchell Robinson (who would also be out in the playoffs). The Knicks are good, but the Celtics have great answers for R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle. Brown and Smart are two of the best perimeter defenders in the league and could easily slow R.J. down. As for Julius Randle, he likes to have the ball in his hand and make plays. If Randle were more of a dominant presence in the paint, then there may be some issues, but the Celtics are capable of keeping him out of the paint and forcing him to make tough shots.

Regardless of which of these teams they face, it is important that they are in the four or five seed. What they don’t want to do is drop any further and have to face the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, or Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. This has been a disappointing season for the Celtics, so they need to get into the four or five seed if they want to make it out of the first round.

About the Contributor
Josemanuel Cruz, Sports Writer