Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON - Fine, we'll take a look at the standings. The Celtics have pretty much forced us to, right?

With just 19 games left in the season, you'd think the playoff picture would start to take shape. But when seven games separate the No. 3 seed from the No. 10 seed, that's just not the case.

The Celtics, however, are that No. 3 seed. But they aren't looking behind them. And why should they? They've won 16 of their last 20 games, and 13 straight at home. They're playing their best basketball of the season, and still say they haven't reached their potential.

The only direction they're looking in is forward. And ahead of them are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.

The question: Can they catch them?

Well, sure. It won't be easy, but who can doubt them right now? Currently, they're 6.5 games behind the Cavaliers (who they meet Saturday night) and 4.5 games behind the Raptors.

The gap is by no means too wide to make a run for a top-two seed.

Jae Crowder was asked if the Celtics can catch the Raptors.

"Of course I think so," Crowder said. "It’s a matter of us locking in, not over-looking any opponent, and taking care of our business day-by-day . . . Just take by each game right now – we’re not looking too far ahead. Working on trying to get better with the limited amount of games we have left before the post-season."

Whether or not anybody else believes in the Celtics, it's pretty clear they believe in themselves. They never consider themselves out of games, and Friday night against the Knicks was just the latest example, as they turned an eight-point deficit in the final four minutes into a one-point win after going on a 13-4 run to close the game. They've come back from much worse, too.

"The sky’s the limit," Evan Turner said. "I think at the end of the day we always give ourselves the opportunity to play the right game and win, when it comes down to a four-game series and all of us are healthy and everything, we can give a lot of teams a lot of problems. When it comes down to it, sometimes you got to weather the storm, whether it’s adversity, playing against great players, playing against tough calls, so I think we can go as far as we possibly can."

Isaiah Thomas said the Celtics can go to the NBA Finals before laughing it off and saying not to quote him on it.

And months ago talk of the Celtics in the NBA Finals would certainly get laughs. It still sounds a bit far-fetched, but really, is it that crazy?

"We just really focus on the right now and focus on continuing to get better," Thomas said, "and let the cards fall where they may."