BOSTON (CBS) — It’s rare you see a regular season loss that’s just as damaging for the present as it is for a team’s future, but the Celtics faced that predicament once again Saturday with an ugly 100-97 home defeat to the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden.
Two of Brooklyn’s 10 wins on the season have now come against Boston, giving them a boost from the basement of the NBA. With a 10-23 record now, the Nets are just a half game below the Pelicans and Suns in the lottery standings for the fifth-worst record in the lottery standings.
The Celtics own Brooklyn’s 2016 unprotected first round pick, which currently has a 15.6 percent chance of giving the Celtics the No. 1 overall pick and a 46.9 percent chance of a top 3 pick if they stay where they are at in the No. 3 slot.
Any more improvement by the Nets would push them past Phoenix and New Orleans in the record department and severely damage those odds for a high pick, giving them just a 29.1 percent chance at a top 3 pick and a 8.8 percent shot at the top choice.
Those percentage shifts aren’t on the minds of the Celtics roster and coaching staff now, as that group is trying to understand the second straight ugly loss to an inferior franchise. However, the pair of setbacks to Brooklyn this season could prove to be the difference from a top-tier player in the 2016 NBA Draft and another mid-lottery selection for Boston.
While Celtics fans will have to hope Brooklyn begin stumbling once again starting with a back end of a home-and-home against Boston on Monday, Boston has its own standings issue to worry about at the bottom of the Eastern Conference as well. The Celtics are tied for the eighth seed in the East at 18-15, but are just two games out of the No. 11 overall spot.
Brad Stevens hasn’t liked what he has seen in the past week, and is demanding some changes on the interior front after Brook Lopez piled on 30 points against an overmatched Boston frontline.
“They smashed us in the paint,” Stevens said. “It’s really the second straight game when you think about Julius Randle just putting us in the basket, and obviously Brandon (Bass) had a couple of those physical dunks, like. We just have to play more physical. That’s a given. It’s what it is.”
Stevens and company will have about 48 hours to stew about the loss before a chance at redemption Monday in the teams’ final meeting of the season. The damage can’t be undone from the past two losses against Brooklyn, but the Celtics would be wise to help themselves improve now and in the future with a win.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter@CelticsHub.