By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics ought to be higher than a group staring on the NBA’s play-in match. However at present sitting because the Jap Convention’s 7-seed with a 26-26 report, that’s precisely the place Boston sits with simply 20 video games left within the season.
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The Celtics have needed to claw their method to that mark too, again at .500 after Wednesday’s hard-fought win over the Knicks. These Knicks simply so occur to be within the 8-seed within the East, a possible play-in opponent for Boston.
The Celtics and Knicks have break up their season collection, and play one another within the remaining sport of the common season, which might make that common season finale in Boston extraordinarily essential matchup for each groups. It may very well be a play-in for the play-in, mainly.
The expectation earlier than the season was for Boston to complete someplace within the high 4 of the Jap Convention. However their underachieving methods have them sitting close to the underside of the East. It’s irritating, given Boston is by some means only a sport again from that 4-seed. Any kind of run might catapult them into the spot that almost all anticipated them to be in when this entire mess started.
That could be a much-desired final result for head coach Brad Stevens, who spoke in regards to the probabilities of being one of many eight groups enjoying for a spot within the postseason in mid-Could.
“You’re what you’re on the finish of the 12 months. Every sport is price one. All of us have to play in addition to we will on a given evening to have success. However any individual goes to complete in that group, and after they do they’re going to need to get able to carry out. Should you do it nicely then you definately will be in the actual match,” Stevens mentioned forward of Boston’s win over the Knicks.
Stevens likes the idea of the match, saying it’s a good suggestion from a “fan engagement standpoint,” however that doesn’t imply he needs his group partaking in it.
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“We hope, identical to New York hopes, identical to each different group on this mixture of groups hopes, that you just’re capable of finding your method above that,” he mentioned. “However, if not, you play the video games you’re assigned to play.”
Right here’s the fast rundown on the play-in bonanza. The highest six groups in each conferences are assured a playoff spot, whereas the 7-10 groups will duke it out within the play-in.
Sport 1 could have the 7-seed host the 8-seed, with the winner securing the 7-seed within the playoffs. If the playoffs began at the moment, the Celtics would host the Knicks in such a situation. For the time being, the prize for successful that sport could be a first-round date with the Philadelphia 76ers, which is as interesting as a greasy pork sandwich served in an ashtray.
Sport 2 will see the 9-seed host the 10-seed, and the winner of that sport strikes on to play the loser of the 7-8 matchup in Sport 3. (The loser of Sport 1 would host the sport.) The losers of Sport 2 and Sport 3 enter the lottery, whereas the winner of Sport 3 snags the 8-seed.
The Celtics might need to play as many as two additional video games earlier than the actual playoffs start, or they may very well be despatched into the lottery and miss the postseason — the actual postseason — for the primary time since 2014.
Once more, the Celtics might keep away from all of this in the event that they bust out of this .500 slog and go on a run in some unspecified time in the future within the close to future. The Hornets are 26-24 on the season, however with LaMelo Ball accomplished for the 12 months and Gordon Hayward sidelined for at the least one other three weeks with a sprained proper foot, Charlotte ought to fall off a bit. Boston has two video games left with Charlotte, in addition to a pair with the Miami Warmth, whom they path by half-a-game within the standings in the meanwhile.
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It’s not one of the best spot to be in, however it’s one the Celtics have put themselves in. The group has a very good to get out of this case, however it would take some actually impressed basketball over the following month.