With Kyrie Irving out for 2019-20, No. 2 seed in East becomes more important for Celtics

Nick Friar
February 21, 2020 - 7:15 am
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Before the Nets ruled Kyrie Irving out for the rest of the season on Thursday, Brooklyn’s 2020 playoffs ceiling was first-round spoiler. But now that’s out of the question.

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The Nets have a good team and play with a lot of energy, but they don’t have enough to beat a No. 2 seed without Irving. Quite frankly, without Irving, the Nets wouldn’t be able to beat this year’s third or fourth seed — or maybe even the fifth seed — out of the East in a best-of-seven series.

Earning that spot in the standings behind the Bucks was already something the Celtics needed to prioritize, even before news came out about Irving needing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. But now, the No. 7 seed in the East may provide just as favorable a matchup as the No. 8 seed.

Whereas, the Pacers — who are currently at No. 6 — could give any team a run for their money in the first round.

That’s not to say the Celtics wouldn’t beat Indiana in six — or maybe even five — games. It would just be a much tougher series than one against the Nets or Magic, the latter of which is currently ranked eighth in the East.

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