Heading into Wednesday night’s showdown, Boston and Cleveland are tied with identical 50-27 records.
The winner of Wednesday night’s game will have the pole position to get the No. 1 seed in the East. It also can be a statement game for both teams. Boston wins and it gains confidence it could beat Cleveland in a playoff showdown, the Celtics can say they are a legit threat to come out of the East. For Cleveland, win and they show their slump is behind them and they are ready to claim their rightful spot as the clear best team in the conference.
“No. Not for me,” said Thomas when asked if the game felt any different being the No. 1 seed. “It’s just another game; I think we have to treat it like that. Being number one in the standings, I don’t feel different, treat it like another game.”
“I don’t know, I’ve played in a lot of big games,” James said… “I don’t … I’m the last person to ask about a big game in the regular season. I’m sorry.”
No, the outcome of this game will not tell us what happens in a seven-game series. For one, Cleveland is on the second night of a back-to-back. However, more than that teams don’t have the time to drill down on film, modify game plans and sets, and generally prepare for a team the way they do in the playoffs. The postseason is a different animal.
The outcome of this game may not even tell us who gets the top seed — Cleveland has a tougher schedule the rest of the way, and coach Tyronn Lue has talked about resting guys heading into the playoffs. Things are still in flux.
But it still matters — this game will give the winner some confidence going into the playoffs. And that matters.