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Celtics are top seed in Eastern Conference, but does it really mean anything? 03.28.17 at 9:18 am ET
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Jaylen Brown's play of late has helped the Celtics gain the Eastern Conference's top spot. (John Geliebter/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown’s play of late has helped the Celtics gain the Eastern Conference’s top spot. (John Geliebter/USA Today Sports)

For Celtics fans, this feels good.

It’s almost April, and their team own the top seed in the Eastern Conference, overtaking the Cavaliers thanks to Cleveland’s blowout loss to San Antonio Monday night. It’s only 1/2 game lead, but considering how long the Celts have been chasing LeBron James and Co., it seems like something.

And if it makes you feel any better, the Web site fivethiryeight.com suggests the Celtics have a 67 percent chance at earning the conference’s No. 1 seed, compared to Cleveland’s 31 percent. It also puts the Celtics at seven percent to win the NBA title, only behind Golden State, San Antonio and Houston.

But other than staking claim to the top of the standings for the time being, should we really care about the standings flip-flop?

The Cavaliers are banged up, with James serving as their latest casualty thanks to an elbow in the neck. Iman Shumpert didn’t play Monday, and Kyle Korver will miss two more games with a sore foot. With nine games to play, you might very well see Cavs coach Tyronn Lue scaling back minutes in his teams last nine games (one of which is against the Celtics, on April 5), prioritizing a semi-healthy playoff run.

After the Cavaliers’ loss, James was quoted as saying, “It matters more that we’re playing better basketball than where we’re at. If that results in us having the No. 1 seed, the No. 2 seed, 3 or whatever the hell it is, we need to play better basketball. That’s what it comes down to.”

And, as painful as it is to admit, he’s right.

The Celtics are the team playing well and feeling good about themselves. Not only have they taken the top seed, but Brad Stevens team has won four in a row and eight of its last 10. It’s been a month where the C’s only loss to an Eastern Conference team came in a slip-up against the lowly Sixers, with the other three defeats coming at the hands of Western Conference foes.

The next three games for the Celtics come against two teams with sub-.500 records (Orlando, New York), and one vs. a club (Milwaukee) just one game over .500. Those contests lead into the showdown with the Cavaliers at TD Garden.

After the Cleveland tilt, the Celtics play four more, traveling to Atlanta and Charlotte before closing out the regular season at home with games against Brooklyn and Milwaukee. (The Nets, by the way, are five games ahead in their race for worst record in the NBA, which is obviously good news for the owner of their first-round pick, the Celtics.)

Right now, if the Celtics were to claim the No. 1 seed their opponent would be Miami, who is just 1/2 game up on Chicago for the final playoff spot in the East. As for who the No. 2 seed might play, the group of Atlanta, Milwaukee and Indiana are all tied.

Does it matter if Celtics get the top seed in the Eastern Conference?

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Sorry Hoosiers, Brad Stevens isn’t going to coach Indiana University 03.18.17 at 11:26 am ET
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Brad Stevens (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

It was inevitable.

With the firing of Tom Creen, the rumors started swirling about Indiana native Brad Stevens jumping ship from the Celtics to go coach at his home state’s university.

According to Stevens, that’s not going to happen.

“I don’t speak to the rumor mill or anything else, but I’ve made it pretty clear I’m going to be here,” the Celtics coach told reporters. “I’ve been asked about that quite a bit and my answer will be the same — I’m going to be here until the Celtics decide they want to move in another direction.”

Stevens signed a six-year, $22 million deal to coach in Boston in 2013 and received a contract extension in 2016. The 40-year-old is currently 157-158 with the C’s, guiding his team to a 44-25 record to date this season.

“One thing about it — I grew up in that state and spend a lot of time down there. I certainly love the state of Indiana and what basketball means in that state,” said Stevens, who previously coached at Butler Univeristy. “IU means a lot to the people in that state. I was no different as a kid, but again, I’ll be here. Doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of the teams in the state — I root for one a heck of a lot more than the rest.”

Stevens grew up in Zionsville, Indiana, and regularly drove to Bloomington to watching Indiana games.

After less-than-inspiring loss to Nuggets, Celtics find themselves in dogfight for second seed 03.11.17 at 9:25 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas was held to 21 points Friday night. (Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas was held to 21 points Friday night. (Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports)

It’s getting to be crunch-time. That’s why losses like the one to Denver Friday night should feel uneasy for the Celtics.

After dropping a 119-99 decision to the No. 8 team in the Western Conference, Brad Stevens’ club finds itself in the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 spot, percentage points behind No. 2 Washington. It is also 2 1/2 games in front of the fourth-seeded Raptors.

Both the Celtics and Wizards are 2 1/2 games in back of top-seeded Cleveland.

(For a complete recap of Friday night’s loss, click here.)

So, with the Celtics having gone 2-3 on their five-game West Coast road swing, now comes the make-or-break final month. The C’s have a flurry of home games now staring at them, with eight of their last 10 games this month to be played at TD Garden.

The next four games are against teams that are on the outside looking in for the postseason, with No. 5 being a showdown against Washington on March 20 at home.

As for April, the Celtics will play an equal number of contests at home and on the road, with the toughest test coming when they host Cleveland on April 5.

The Wizards, conversely, have a fairly brutal schedule for the rest of March, with four of the final 12 games for the month coming on the road. Washington finishes off March with five straight games on the road, starting in Cleveland, and then finishing off with a West Coast swing.

Where do you think the Celtics will end up?

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Celtics prove they’re better than Warriors (for one night, anyway) 03.09.17 at 7:12 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk had quite a game for the Celtics Wednesday night. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Kelly Olynyk had quite a game for the Celtics Wednesday night. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

It gets you thinking.

Sure, there was no Kevin Durant. And, yes, they only play each other two times a season. But when you have the success the Celtics have had against the powerhouse Warriors, thoughts of what might happen in a playoff series are bound to start percolating. Maybe Brad Stevens’ team could win a game.

As was the case last season, the Celtics went into Oracle Arena and came out as victors over the NBA’s best team, this time beating Golden State, 99-86, Wednesday night. In case you forgot, the C’s win in Oakland the last time snapped the Warriors’ 54-game home winning streak.

(Of course, we’ll forget the 104-88 walloping the Warriors put on the Celtics at TD Garden with Durant back in November.)

This time, one of the aspects of the victory which made it memorable was the chant of “M-V-P” from the home crowd toward Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas, with Steph Curry having to stand on the same court at the same time. After hearing the shouts during both games against the Lakers and Clippers, Thomas extracted them this time with a 25-point effort.

“We get them in other teams’ arenas too. We can’t be sensitive about that,” the reigning MVP, Curry, told reporters after the game.

What truly paced the Celtics past the Warriors, who entered the game 26-3 at home, was defense against Golden State’s shooters, Klay Thompson and Curry. The duo combined to go just 4-for-17 from beyond the 3-point stripe.

Another huge plus for the Celtics came from Kelly Olynyk, with the forward not only going 7-for-9 from the floor, but totaling a plus-29 in just 26 minutes. Also highlighting the reserves’ contribution was Jaylen Brown’s plus-13 in 15 minutes.

For a complete recap of the game, click here.

When it comes to brutal losses, there aren’t many worse than the one Celtics suffered in Phoenix 03.05.17 at 9:08 pm ET
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It was shaping up to be another example of the resilience of these gritty, gutty Celtics.

Without two of their top three scorers, Al Horford (right elbow strain) and Avery Bradley (right hamstring strain), the Celts were on their way to overcoming the absences and a 15-point, third-quarter deficit against the Suns Sunday night.

But then came the last 11.9 seconds.

After Isaiah Thomas put the Celtics up by two with just under 12 seconds left, the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe went right by Jae Crowder for a game-tying lay-up with four ticks remaining. Then, in a haste to get the ball up the court, Crowder’s inbound pass to Thomas was knocked away by Marquese Chriss, into the hands of rookie Tyler Ulis.

Ulis grabbled the loose ball, and, falling away, sank the game-winning 3-pointer as the clock expired, handing the Celtics their 109-106 loss. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Making the loss even more painful for the Celtics, who will have to play the Clippers in Los Angeles Monday night, was that it allowed Washington to gain a game in the Eastern Conference standings, now sitting two in back of the C’s.

Chaos ensues after Isaiah Thomas’ eyes emoji on Twitter 02.20.17 at 10:39 pm ET
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So, this is what happened that led to that tweet from the Celtics assistant general manager …

At 7:23 p.m., Isaiah Thomas tweets out an emoji showing a pair of suspecting eyes.

At 7:24 p.m., the Celtics Twitter freaks out.

It is uncovered that the last time Thomas executed such a tweet, big things did go down.

Then came word the the Celtics had started following Carmelo Anthony on Instagram.

Stay tuned …

Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis crying about ‘overrated’ Doc Rivers 02.17.17 at 12:22 am ET
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Glen Davis

Glen Davis

You would think Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis would have a certain amount of appreciation for Doc Rivers.

It was the former Celtics head coach who brought Davis into the NBA via the 2007 draft, and then brought him over to the Clippers for the 2014-15 season. Evidently, those turn of events don’t matter much to the current free agent.

There are definitely some hard feelings coming from Davis.

Appearing on Chris Broussard’s podcast, the former Celtic called Rivers “lucky as hell” and “overrated” when asked about his former coach.

According to FoxSports.com, this is how the exchange went …

Davis: Because what Doc had in ’08 was special and he was lucky as hell … Lucky as hell. The year before that they was wearing trash bags … But then the next year they win it, now he is one of the best coaches ever? I’m just not feeling that. You know what I mean? You give credit to KG. You give credit to Paul Pierce. You give credit to Ray Allen. Those are the guys who made sure whatever Doc needed to be done, got done.

And see now it’s easy for Doc to do his job. And then you give credit to Danny Ainge. That’s the one you give credit to. Because I know multiple times [Ainge] had to talk to Doc, just to say ‘Hey Doc, leave em alone. Hey Doc, ease up.’

“I’m off that Doc tip. He’s a great guy but as far as that basketball stuff but I try to …”

Broussard: Is he overrated as a coach?

Davis: I think so.

Broussard: Really?

Davis: Yea.

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