Paul Flannery published a column early this morning about whether the Celtics should play for seeding or health, and per usual he did a very thorough job detailing the scenario.
Doc Rivers gave his input on the matter, saying he would prefer health (and noting that he might choose to rest some of the Core Four during some of the back-to-back-to-backs or back-to-backs down the stretch run) but obviously, he also would enjoy a better seed.
The real dilemma is that the Celtics, who are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, would meet Chicago or Miami in the first round if they finish seventh or eighth. If you meet either of those teams that early, a strong possibility exists for a first-round exit and an early trip to the Bahamas, which I suppose doesn’t sound too bad, although the Celtics would prefer a later trip to the Bahamas and a longer stay in the playoffs. The problem with trying to avoid Bulls and/or Heat in round one is that neither team is going anywhere. If the Celtics don’t meet one of them in the first round, they’ll meet them in the second round, and then another one will almost certainly be waiting in the third round.
So yes, it would be nice to avoid the two Eastern Conference juggernauts so early. But wherever the Celtics land seedings-wise, the Heat and Bulls are going to be waiting for them at some point with their fists balled. If you’re going to have to meet them at some point anyway, you might as well do so at full health, which seems to be Doc’s priority anyway.
“At the end of the day if it comes down to seeding or health, I’m going to choose health,” Rivers said before the Celtics played Utah on Wednesday. “You would rather have a better seed, but you can go wherever you want, if you’re not healthy it’s not going to matter, especially with us. It’s an interesting thing.”
But do the Celtics have a chance? Rivers thinks so.
Asked if he thought the C’s could make a run in the playoffs, Rivers said: “Before the season I thought we could, beginning of the season I wasn’t so sure, and now I do. And again, for us — and actually, for everyone — you have to be healthy. You just have to be healthy. I do think we all forget the one thing that is good is we rest more in the playoffs. In the playoffs the games are harder, but the rest is more.”
I doubt the Celtics have enough to oust the Heat or Bulls. Yet I’m growing oddly comfortable with this team’s winning formula — make games ugly, use consistent effort from KG, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, and receive contributions from different bench players each night — and the understanding that these Celtics never tap out into submission, but rather make you pry wins from their bloodied and mangled fingers. They won’t be an easy out, even against the game’s best.