Why the Boston Celtics Still Have Hope for the No. 1 Seed

GrahamSenior Analyst IApril 4, 2009

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 6: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics reacts during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the TD Banknorth Garden on March 6, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It's been said that the Celtics' hopes for the No. 1 seed are gone, after the Cleveland Cavaliers boasted a 5.5-game lead over the green.

Now, with the Cavs having lost two in a row, and the Celtics having won the last two critical games, it's down to 3.5 games in these tight standings. Behind the C's are the roaring Magic, who are one game back after tearing apart a tough Cavaliers team.

The Celtics have one of the easiest schedules heading down the stretch, with their last five games being against some weak teams, two of them being New Jersey (home game), and Washington (home game).

If the Celtics can beat the Cavaliers on April 12 in the last showdown of the regular season, it could be an extremely tight and exciting race in the last two games.

The Cavs obviously have to play the Celtics as said above, but other match-ups include San Antonio, and two tough games against Philadelphia, unlike the Celtics, who only have to play Philly once.

Home court has been something many teams have been gunning for this year, especially since the Celtics' playoff run last year had shown that home court can be a huge advantage.

Until the Detroit series in the final round before the series against the Lakers, the Celtics had gotten by a weak Hawks team and a beat up Cavs team by winning all four games at home. Yet none on the road.

Teams such as the Celtics themselves, the Cavs, Magic, and Lakers have been the front runners for home court all season. Throughout the year, there have been standing changes, upsets, winning streaks, and droughts that have made or broke many teams' seasons.

The Cavs so-called "key to victory" is homecourt, whereas the Celtics now have the experience from last year where they can win clutch games on the road.

However, the Cavs have not been nearly as great on the road as they've been at home, with a 36-1 home record, and a 25-14 road record. They've allowed 6.6 more points on the road than at home, and scored 4.6 less points on the road than at home.

The Celtics can get by without home court, as I touched on briefly above. Although they have just a slightly better road record (26-13), they play extraordinary defense, which allows them to cope with their significant offensive drop when on the road instead of at home.

They actually allow 1.8 less points on the road than they do at home, but the offense is noticeable, scoring 6.5 less points on the road.

The Celtics recently got Tony Allen, their predicted six man, back last night. He is an effective slasher going towards the basket, has greatly improved his shot, and could be considered the Celtics best perimeter defender.

They are waiting for the return of role player Brian Scalabrine, and Leon Powe. Powe was pouring out the numbers before his injury, and with Glen Davis' phenomenal offensive as well as defensive play as of late, the Celtics hope to intimidate the other teams with their big men coming off the bench.

It's extremely unlikely that star Kevin Garnett will return for the showdown against the Cavs April 12, and maybe even the rest of the regular season. However, if he can come back with a spring in his step, or even just the normal presence he brings, the Celtics will be an elite team once again.

You know what they say, offense wins games, defense wins championships, right? Well, you can see that because of the Cavs' ability to continue to score points on the road, they currently have the one seed, but if the Celtics continue to play excellent road as well as great defense at home, it will pay off late in the playoffs.

But if you want real proof that we can do this, just listen to KG say that one sentence. I think you know which one I am talking about.