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Ainge focus - load management and not dropping below 6th spot in East

  Get into the playoffs and anything can happen.


In a nutshell, Danny Ainge's mindset is the old NBA axiom - Get into the playoffs and anything can happen.

Two former-Celtics refugees are thriving with their newly-chosen teams in the Eastern Conference. Coach Doc Rivers has his 76'ers in first place with a 23-12 record, while the dearly-departed Kyrie Irving has partnered well with James Harden to put the Nets in second place at 23-13 - with much of that happening with Kevin Durant out of action.

The Bucks hold down the third spot at 21-13, but the next seven slots are huddled together with records varying from 18-17 (Knicks - 4th spot) to 15-18 (Pacers and Bulls - 9th and 10th spots). The Celtics sit in sixth place with a 17-17 record.

Danny Ainge knows this just may not be the Celtics year. The Nets getting Durant back is simply scary for the rest of the League, and Philly just keeps winning. And it doesn't get any better for Boston out West where four teams (Jazz, Lakers, Clippers, Suns) all have better records than any team in the East.

So Ainge's statement about "no moves at the deadline" may be factual. Marcus Smart's worrisome calf injury is still on the mend, and Rob Williams is having his minutes limited due to a hip issue. Both Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard have experienced knee issues of late, and all four of these players would have significant roles in any post season run.

Playoff seeding has lost a lot of its charm since no one yet knows what the post-season will look like - and what, if any, home court advantage there may be. However, with the playoff structure for 2021, The Celtics really need to avoid dropping below that sixth spot in the East to avoid having to participate in the play-in tournament that involves teams 7-10. 

That seems to be Danny's plan - rest the troops, allow sufficient time for recovery, push to remain in the top-6 in the Eastern Standings, hope the injury bug strikes elsewhere - and go for a trade at the deadline if the right one surfaces. 


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