Our friends over at CelticsHub handicapped the race for the Atlantic Division title, including whether Boston can make a 20-game surge to catch the Knicks, who are currently five games ahead. A taste of what they found:
Celtics: 20 games remaining (10 home, 10 road); Games vs. playoff teams: 8; Back-to-backs: 5. That my friends is what you call a favorable slate. The Celtics still have a looming three-game road trip throughout the Western Conference that won’t be easy next week (@ New Orleans, @ Dallas, @ Memphis) but after that, things soften up quite a bit. There are a couple games against tough opponents mixed in (hello Heat, Pacers), but two of three games come in the last week of the season.
Knicks: 22 games remaining (9 home, 13 road); Games against playoff teams: 14; Back-to-backs: 7. Whoa boy, that’s not a fun setup at all. Lots of games on the road, lots against playoff teams and plenty of back-to-backs for an old and injury-plagued team? Yikes. Where’s the panic button? We’ll find out a lot pretty quickly with this crew as the Knicks start a five-game west coast swing tonight in Golden State. Four of those games are on back-to-backs. The Knicks could go 3-2 on this, but they could just as easily go 0-5 or 1-4.
With two head-to-head matchups remaining, Boston has potential to make a run. The question is whether Brooklyn, currently 2½ games ahead of the Celtics, could likewise make a charge at the division title. ESPN.com's Hollinger Playoffs Odds pegs Boston with a mere 9.4 percent chance of winning the Atlantic, but CelticsHub thinks it's higher than that given the schedule.
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