The Celtics, seeded number two in the East, believe in what’s to come next

The Boston Celtics made the right decision to push for the No. 2 seed during the regular season final game Sunday night in Memphis.

Boston has been the best team in basketball for the past three months and there was no need to fiddle with the system in hopes of avoiding a potentially thorny first-round showdown against the 20th-defending NBA Brooklyn Nets.

Challenging the basketball gods can introduce the kind of bad mojo that even sage Kyrie Irving can’t eliminate. It’s the rest of the NBA who should have been scrambling to avoid the Celtics based on their second-half play.

Here’s what it means for the Celtics to finish second in the post-season

The Celtics have won 28-7 in their last 35 games. They had the best offensive, defensive and net ratings in the league during that time. Boston outperformed its opponents by 525 points during that period. They created an even bigger gap between the nearest competitor with Sunday’s win over the Grizzlies, who are second in plus/minus since Jan. 23 at 295 plus.

Look, we understand panic. The second-ranked players usually don’t have to worry about not having the best player on the field in the first-round series. Kevin Durant will make this series tougher than most quarterfinal matches. And Irving’s presence adds a full Gemini sidebar to the festivities. There would have been a lot less headache when playing sixth-seeded Chicago and possibly fifth-seeded Toronto.

But we are already getting ahead of ourselves. The Nets still need to win their play-off against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night just to prepare for that first-round encounter. Cleveland came under attack with injury in the second half of the season, but they were still comfortable enough to push the net in one fight.

The pain points of a potential Brooklyn game still greatly outweighed the positives gained by overtaking the Bucks who crossed the finish line. The Celtics will have a Homecourt advantage in a potential second-round series against Milwaukee.

Yes, the potential Brooklyn-Milwaukee-Miami path to the NBA Finals is less than ideal. But all of those teams would be less exciting to see Boston on the other side, too.

Sure, the Celtics could have changed pace on Sunday, but it would have left some key pieces of the team with limited game movement over a period of up to 10 days. It looks like the Celtics-Nets game is destined to find itself swinging by the Easter lights on Sunday, April 17th.

But instead of leaving their fate to how the Sixers (sans Joel Embiid and James Harden) did well against the Detroit Pistons, Boston set foot on the gas in Memphis and sprinted to the finish line of the season.

Jayson Tatum was outstanding, making one final case for the All-NBA First Team with 31 points from 14 shots over 26 minutes. Al Horford has found his shot since Valentine’s Day, and Derek White – acquired at about the same point – may have found it too.

The Celtics could probably feel better if Robert Williams was healthy and on the field for their post-season start. The team is optimistic about being able to get back on the early side of their 4-6 week schedule, and perhaps even open the door for a late first-round comeback if the team struggles without him.

The Nets are talented but have rarely shown that they can be a legitimate competitor. The Celtics should continue to be the top team based on their play over the past 12 weeks as they advanced from 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics showed their confidence in this team by going into it on Sunday. The basketball gods should take notice and we’ll see if they get rewarded in the playoffs.

And remember, the Celtics have rarely taken the easy road this season.