The Boston Celtics know that every game counts, and that three playoff scenarios are likely to play out: 1) They catch the Sixers and win the Atlantic Division, leaping to the third seed; 2) They finish seventh or eighth in the seedings, drawing the Bulls or the Heat; 3) They miss the playoffs altogether, start summer vacation early, and watch while Danny Ainge takes a wrecking ball to the roster.
With that serving as a backdrop, the Celtics traveled to Milwaukee and battled the league’s hottest team, and promptly shut down their six-game winning streak. Our Celtics are old, sure, but they are also proud. They don’t want scenario three, where they go golfing during the day and watch the playoffs on TV at night. They don’t want scenario two, because they know it would likely mean an early playoff exit. So they are hungry for scenario one - winning the Atlantic Division title and trying to right the momentum all the way to the NBA Finals.
Tonight afforded the Celtics with a favorable matchup against a team with size issues of its own, and Doc Rivers pushed all of the right buttons in helping the C’s keep pace with the surging Knicks. In the process, Boston spoiled the Milwaukee debut of Monta Ellis, who came over from Golden State in a deal just prior to the trade deadline. It was good to get a double-double out of Kevin Garnett, while Pierce quietly went about knocking down a game-high 25 points.
Now comes the hard part – a huge road game against Philadelphia tomorrow night, the second game in a back-to-back. We’ll get a chance to find out just how hungry our Celtics truly are, and perhaps gain some insight into which scenario is likely to play out at the end of the season.