Earlier today, NBA insider Shams Charania announced that both Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie will both be sitting out when the NBA season restarts. Beal will not play due to a shoulder injury, while the Nets’ team doctors decided Dinwiddie will sit out of the restart out of an abundance of caution.
These announcements just made the Boston Celtics pursuit of the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference much easier. The Nets were already going to be without Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, and Nic Claxton. This leaves Brooklyn with a ton of roster spots to fill, and players that will need to step up. Caris LeVert’s trade value might skyrocket during his time in Orlando.
The Washington Wizards were already going to be without their second-leading scorer in Davis Bertans. Now they’re going to be without their leading scorer, and the second-highest scorer in the NBA, Bradley Beal. The next guys up in Washington include rookie Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, and Jordan McRae.
This is a tough spot for both teams to be in, considering both were going to be fighting for seeding at the tail end of the Eastern Conference. Although Brooklyn is the #7 seed, their spot is in jeopardy now due to most of their top players sitting out.
Washington was the only Eastern Conference team outside of the top-8 seeds that were invited to the Orlando bubble. And although they don’t have the best roster in the world, they had a fighting chance considering all of these players were deciding to sit out. Now with Bertans and Beal out, their chances to make the playoffs are looking very dim.
So what does this mean for the Celtics? Well, this means a few things. The most important thing to note is that Boston will play Brooklyn (8/5) and Washington (8/13) during the last eight regular-season games. These two games just became a whole lot easier for Boston to win now.
Another thing to note is that the Brooklyn game comes right before their game against Toronto (8/7), which means Brad Stevens can decide to sit a few players or only allow guys to play with limited minutes. Right now, that Toronto game is the most important matchup on the schedule.
If Boston can grab that #2 seed from Toronto, which is looking more likely with more players sitting out, that means they will have a first-round matchup against either the Wizards, Nets, or Magic. These would be the easiest matchups for Boston and would allow them to avoid playing teams like Indiana or Philadelphia in the first round.
Seeding will be necessary for Boston because of matchup purposes. It’ll be essential for them to face off against a team with multiple players sitting out than a team that’s healthy and ready to go. An easier matchup will allow Boston to be more focused on the second-round and not have to worry about playing a series that’ll go six or seven games.
Now we just have to hope nobody from Boston will decide to sit out. If they do, there won’t be any issues on this end because they’ll have an excellent reason to sit out. But if the Celtics roll into Orlando with a fully healthy roster that’s hungry and ready to make a run at a championship, they’ll have a much easier road than they did just a few days ago.
Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP