Celtics know numbers don't tell story against Bulls

Celtics beat Nets, stay alive for top seed in East

Celtics beat Nets, stay alive for top seed in East

Heck, it seemed improbable just a week ago.

The final pair of Eastern Conference playoff kick-off games are set for Sunday as the Hawks visit the Wizards and the Bulls head to Boston to battle the Celtics.

The Celtics have secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Boston shrugged off an unimpressive first three quarters on Fan Appreciation Night and ran away with a 112-94 victory.

Knicks 114, 76ers 113: Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points after deciding to play in what could be his final game with NY.

Game one takes place in TD Garden in Boston at 6:30 PM ET. Everyone was a go for the C's. "I feel very strong about this group".

"I always expected to be the number one team coming out of the East", said guard Avery Bradley, who injured a finger in the second half but returned to action. You just got to take care of business and be locked in. "So, I just wanted to make sure that I let him know that I was going to try to help him as best as I could to make the game easy for him".

Boston cannot only clinch first in the East on Wednesday, but they can also continue building their playoff momentum. If the Celtics can limit the Bulls' second chances, they'll be in good shape.

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Neither is the player he used to be, but experience can be valuable when you're playing a team that had 12 more wins that you during the regular season - a team that has yet to win a playoff series that would add another block in a rebuilding process. This bodes well for the Celtics, as they have a 28-11 record at home. But, yes, there was some good fortune along the way.

Now comes the hard part: the Celtics have to make this opportunity count. A similar fate this spring would be unacceptable. The playoffs are a bear, and having the No. 1 seed is a target with the expectations. There are expectations and a significant degree of pressure to perform. "Fatigue got us a little bit", said Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who was pleased to come out of the game without any injuries.

If you're a Celtics fan, it's hard not to have at least a little sliver of pessimism. "That's enough motivation in itself", Crowder said.

Luckily for them, Jimmy Butler is up for the challenge. They also have a former Celtic in Rajon Rondo, who will undoubtedly be motivated to burn is former team.

Below is the complete list of games, tip-off times, stream and TV channels for the National Basketball Association games on Wednesday night.

"Really physical team, great offensive rebounding team with multiple proven playoff players", said Stevens of the Bulls.

"Trying to finish the season with the No. 1 seed, that means a lot to me, personally, so hopefully we can get that", Thomas said.

Stevens credited his team for being consistent with their preparation and the way they competed during the season, but certainly wasn't about to arrange a duck boat parade for earning the top seed.