The Boston Celtics are coming off a disappointing back-to-back which saw them drop games to the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers. While these two teams are among the best in the Eastern Conference, the losses have sparked some debate about this Celtics club.
Are they contenders or pretenders?
While the team has a 17-7 record, there has been chatter that because the team hasn't beaten the best teams in the East, they may not be able to make a lot of noise in the playoffs. But is that chatter being fueled by recency bias and the team's two latest losses?
Shanda, Cerrone, and a special guest from NBC Sports Boston, Kyle Draper, debated the issue on this week's episode of "That 617 Life Podcast".
Draper defended the Celtics right out of the gate and pointed to the available personnel and level of competition the team has faced as reasons for the mini losing streak.
They played two very good teams. Can we at least say that? I'm not gonna be down on this team or concerned about this team. Let's go back to that Indiana game. If Gordon Hayward doesn't leave that game, if Jaylen Brown doesn't foul out, maybe you win that game. And you played without Marcus Smart. Same thing against Philly. That was a high-level game. I thought both teams played well.
Cerrone agreed with Draper and called the Celtics "one of the tougher outs in the NBA" ... when everyone's healthy. But getting everyone healthy is the big key for the team.
I think they'll get into a groove and they've gotta get into a rhythm as a team the more these guys stay healthy. That is the key to the whole thing, it's health.
The Celtics have seen a number of starters miss significant time with injuries and illnesses including Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. So Cerrone's point is well taken, and the C's will be better off competing in close games against top-tier teams once they have their full complement of players available.
Hear more of the group's thoughts on the Celtics and other major Boston sports stories on the latest episode of the "That 617 Life Podcast", which drops every Friday as part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Mavericks, which tips off Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 9:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.