Celtics clinch NBA playoff home edge


WASHINGTON: The Boston Celtics secured the best record in the NBA this season and clinched home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs with a dominant 135-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

Latvian player Kristaps Porzingis led the charge with 27 points and 12 rebounds, supported by Jayson Tatum’s 24 points and Jaylen Brown’s 23 points. The win propelled the Celtics to a league-leading 60-16 record in the Eastern Conference.

With the next best teams, Minnesota and Denver, sharing the Western Conference lead at 53-33 and only six games left in Boston’s regular season, the Celtics are guaranteed to have the most home games in any playoff series as they pursue their 18th NBA championship, aiming to set a league record.

“You learn to appreciate the process,” said Tatum. “All the while we want to hang a (championship) banner. We can’t skip steps. Winning 60-plus games and clinching the best record in the league, it’s a big deal. But you’re going to have to win some games on the road regardless in the playoffs to do what you want to do.”

Returning home after a successful 4-2 road trip, the Celtics showcased their dominance by outscoring the Thunder 42-17 in the fourth quarter.

“It feels great,” Tatum expressed. “We had a long road trip, 13 days. It was definitely good to come back here, be around our fans and get a win. We really just picked up our intensity. That first game back after a long road trip can be kind of tough. We ended up finding our energy. It really showed in that second half. We started getting stops, playing faster, knocking down shots.”

Meanwhile, Minnesota joined defending champions Denver at the top of the Western Conference with a resounding 133-85 victory over the visiting Toronto Raptors, extending the Raptors’ losing streak to 15 games. Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 28 points, supported by Naz Reid’s 23 points and Rudy Gobert’s 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Despite being plagued by injuries, Milwaukee faced a setback as they played without Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, and Patrick Beverley, ultimately losing to the Memphis Grizzlies 111-101 on their home court.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *