Although the Boston Celtics currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference at 34-31, some believe the team could still make some major noise once postseason play begins. And with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker leading the charge, it’s not an unfathomable scenario.
Despite losing five of their last eight games, the Celtics continue to be much better on paper than their record would suggest. If they can get over their bumps and bruises and find some time to gel over the next handful of games, they could — at the very least — be a tough out in Round 1.
However, not everyone is sold on Boston’s ability to right the ship.
On Tuesday, the New York Post’s Marc Berman broke down several potential playoff matchups for the Knicks. In doing so, he gathered intel from league scouts regarding each would-be playoff bout.
One of them had a particularly hot take regarding a Celtics-Knicks series.
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Scout: New York Knicks Should Want to Face Celtics in the Playoffs
When the Celtics and Knicks last met on April 7, the Beantowners narrowly captured a 101-99 win. Although RJ Barrett dropped a team-high 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the game, he committed a turnover with just over a minute left that may have cost New York the game.
The Knicks were trailing 91-90 at the time when Barrett got sloppy with the dribble, bumping the ball toward the sidelines. He was able to save it from going out of bounds, but it eventually ended up in the hands of Brown, who took the ball down the court for a layup to give Boston a three-point advantage.
Since that loss, though, the Knicks have been playing brilliant basketball, winning 12 of their last 13 games.
“They’re playing with so much more confidence since that game,” said one talent evaluator.
That could be a major problem for the Celtics if they find themselves matched up with the Knicks, who clobbered Boston 105-75 in January.
According to Berman, the same scout believes that the Knicks’ Reggie Bullock could be the key to beating the Celtics, as he aims to put the clamps down on Brown.
“They need a huge playoff from Bullock,’’ the talent evaluator opined. “I don’t know if I trust that yet.’’
In any case, another league scout thinks the Knicks should have the Cs in their crosshairs.
“Boston is funky,” assessed the scout. “If I’m the Knicks, I’d want to play them. The playoffs will be less pace and the Knicks will be able to grind it out. They have a chance to move the needle.”
Rubber Match Looms
The Knicks and the Celtics will square off one more time before the season’s end. After playing the first two games at TD Garden, the third and final bout between the teams will be played at Madison Square Garden in NYC on May 16.
It will be the regular-season finale for both clubs.
The Celtics must do a better job of containing Barrett in the contest. The former No. 3 overall pick is averaging 24 points and eight rebounds per contest against Boston this season. He has also made eight of his 10 three-point attempts in those games.
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