I care about the Boston Celtics for two reasons. First, I love Boston sports teams, and rooting for them is an integral aspect of living in this city. Second, I love watching basketball, and the NBA is the best basketball league on the planet.
That’s why it sucks that tonight is more important than any single game that the Celtics played all season, with the possible exceptions of April 1 in Oracle Arena and Games 3 and 4 against the Hawks. It was a huge statement for the Celtics to become the first team to win in Oakland during the regular season since January 2015, and it was imperative for the C’s to hold home court in Games 3 and 4 and tell the world that they wouldn’t roll over, even with a missing Avery Bradley and a hobbled Kelly Olynyk.
Tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery will determine the fate of the Celtics’ franchise over the next decade far more than just about any game the C’s could play. Get one of the top 2 picks, and suddenly the Celtics have all the pieces to contend within a few years, whether through player development or trading assets. If they don’t, Operation Contend Again stalls.
Celtics fans do need to realize, however, that the C’s are not screwed if they wind up with the 6th pick tonight, which will probably happen according to Celtics’ lottery history. The plan to rebuild simply gets stalled, not halted in its tracks. They still will draft in the Nets’ spot for each of the next 2 years after this one, and they still will have the Grizzlies’ pick in 2019, 2020, or 2021 when Memphis probably sucks. That’ll be a valuable asset within 1-3 years. Most importantly, they still have a good young core and one of the best young coaches in the league who will only get better after a 48 win season.
But tonight is super important. I’ve been nervous since I woke up Monday morning, 36 hours before the ping pong balls are revealed. Only the NBA draft lottery can make fans feel this way without the sport actually being played.