Toucher & Rich

BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics just concluded their toughest stretch of the season, but with five games remaining and a playoff spot still up in the air, the hard work is far from over.

The Celtics currently hold a one-game lead over both Indiana and Miami for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but there’s still debate that rages on sports talk radio whether making or missing the postseason is actually better for Boston in the long term.

If Boston makes the postseason then their young players and head coach get that playoff experience, but if they miss the tournament then you have a better shot at landing more ping pong balls in the NBA Lottery, and thus a better chance at getting a top-flight college player in the draft.

In a recent article on Grantland, author Zach Lowe wrote about Boston’s decision to acquire Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline, and how the franchise felt it might be better to wait until the summer for the move to be made so their win total could be deflated in the interim.

That article, coupled with the recent comments made by Celtics president Danny Ainge to the Boston Herald, and the conclusion one logically reaches is that Ainge would not be bent out of shape if his rebuilding team missed the playoffs.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich had on the voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande, Monday morning to weigh in.

“I don’t think [Ainge] will be that disappointed [if Celtics miss the playoffs]. The story and the magnitude of it in the big picture, how much do you hurt yourself years from now if you get the 16th pick in the draft instead of the 12th or 13th pick? Who knows? That could turn out to be the greatest 12th pick of all time, and a 16th pick who’s a bust — but that’s not likely to happen,” Grande told the morning show.

As a broadcaster, Grande can’t help but notice the contrast between year one and year two of the rebuild.

“I think the difference between this year and last year, at least to me, was the culture of losing and tanking. That weighed like an anchor over the entire organization last year. It was strange to do my job when the Celtics would actually manage to win a game, and everyone would seemingly be disappointed on Twitter and on the Sports Hub the next day. That’s been gone this year from the start, which has been nice.”

Oddsmakers at the beginning of the season would have likely predicted Boston being on the outside looking in when playoff time rolled around, which is why watching this team has been a treat all year. In the end, as Grande notes, the difference between the 12th pick and the 16th pick of the draft is very minimal, so why not enjoy a few postseason games if you can?

“You couldn’t even get a ticket Friday night, and people are excited about this. What’s the better story? It’s great to win later, and of course that’s the goal, but this is a remarkable story right here. This is a team that has no business talent-wise competing with these other teams for a playoff spot, and with five games to go they’re in control of their own fate. It’s remarkable.”

Boston returns to the hardwood Wednesday night in Detroit.

Listen below!

Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. Hear his call of the games alongside Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting 30 minutes prior to tipoff! Click here for a list of affiliates on the Celtics Radio Network.

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