The Boston Celtics are 48-26 and officially have the best record in the Eastern Conferance for the first time this season after the Cleveland Cavaliers (47-26) lost to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
With two weeks and eight games left in the regular season, the Celtics are not getting ahead of themselves, especially since they play the NBA champs one last time come April 5.
"Every team in the NBA should want to be the best team in the NBA, said Avery Bradley during morning shoot-around. "We're showing that we can be if we're playing the right way, if we're playing the right kind of basketball. That's an accomplishment to be the first team in the East. We understand that. But at the same time we understand we could lose it tomorrow." [ESPNBoston]It's the second time this year that Boston has jumped up in the standings on an off day. After Sunday's win against the Heat, the C's pulled into a virtual tie with the Cavaliers. Cleveland, with nine games left, will face five playoff contenders (including the Celtics and Raptors) while Boston will take on the Cavs, Hawks and Bucks (twice) as the only teams with above .500 records.
LeBron James was asked about his team's recent skid (7-9 in March) and what does it mean going forward.
"How much does it matter to me?" asked James. "It matters more that we're playing better basketball than where we're at, and if that results in us getting the number one seed, getting the number two seed, three or whatever the hell it is, I want us to be playing better basketball. That's what it comes down to. I'm not worried about anything. I feel like when we're playing Cavaliers basketball, when we're playing the type of basketball that we know we're capable of playing, when we're at full strength, we can start off on the road. We've done it before." [ESPNBoston]Isaiah Thomas believes the Cavaliers struggles are only temporary and that they're still the champions until another team knocks them out in the postseason.
"They've been struggling for whatever reason but it's still an NBA-championship-caliber team, said Thomas. "They're defending champions so it goes through them until someone eliminates them. I don't think you can be too worried about the things that they're struggling with right now. They're a really good team. Sooner or later they'll probably figure it out." [ESPNBoston]Though the Celtics are not celebrating anything just yet, they know the task at hand and the bigger picture moving forward.
"It doesn't mean a whole lot right now," Brad Stevens said of his team being in first. "The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and try to stay in the moment. You do that whether you're in last place and trying to build up, or if you're in a position where you're fighting for seeding." [Celtics.com]The Celtics will have their work cut out for them as they look to maintain the No. 1 seed throughout the remainder of the regular season. Other than Cleveland, they still have Washington (2.5 games back) and Toronto (3 games back) to worry about before it's all said and done.
The C's will take on another team fighting for playoff positioning; the Milwaukee Bucks (38-36) on Wednesday night.
Tip-off from the TD Garden is at 7:30.
Photo used is courtesy of Associated Press