In a season that looks more and more doomed by the minute, the Boston Celtics went into last night (game 81) with a mathematical shot at the number 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, they had to win their last two games and the Atlanta Hawks would have to lose their final two games making it an unlikely scenario. Therefore we should be thankful that the Celts (50-31) took any intrigue out of it by losing 101-93 to the Chicago Bulls (40-41) last night at the United Center.
The Bulls had to win last night and tonight to get into the playoffs so needless to say that they came to play. Well, Derrick Rose (career-high 39 points and 7 assists) and Kirk Hinrich (season-high 30 points) showed up at least. Joakim Noah added nine points and 16 rebounds.
Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Ray Allen notched 25 points in the loss. Kevin Garnett was the only other player on either side with double figures, 14 points and nine rebounds. Rajon Rondo was completely owned by Rose as he had just four points and six assists in 37 minutes.
Boston hung around for most of the fourth quarter until Hinrich drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a jumper which he got open for by upfaking Nate Robinson out of the Windy City.
The C's end the regular season tonight back at home against the Milwaukee Bucks with the number four seed firmly locked up. Anyone of significance (ie. the Big Three, Perk and Rondo) should not play more than 25 minutes. The game means something to the Bucks since it's yet to be determined if Boston will play the Miami Heat or Milwaukee in the first round.
I don't really have a preference. With Andrew Bogut, the Bucks would be a legitimate threat to beat the Celts. Without him, I don't think they can win more than two games. The Heat have Dwyane Wade, who is one of the NBA's best (and most protected), but little else.
As erratic as Boston has been, I don't think they could choke against either of those middling teams. However, they're playing on borrowed time since it seems extremely unlikely that they could beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. If this season has taught us anything, it's don't take anything for granted so I won't worry about LeBron until the C's are safely out of the first round.