Unable to help themselves with losses in four straight, the Celtics got help Thursday night with losses by both the Pacers and Hornets, are now locked into the top seed in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
That No. 7 seed spot will now give the Celtics, who will be without Jaylen Brown for the remainder of the season, a one-game meeting with either the Pacers, Hornets, and Wizards next Tuesday night at TD Garden.
A win in that contest would truly lock the Celtics into the No. 7 seed in the 2021 postseason, while a loss would drop the Celtics into the danger zone of a meeting with the winner of the play-in contest between the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds, with the winner of that game earning the No. 8 seed in the East’s playoff picture.
To boil it down in the simplest terms, the Celtics need to simply win, or lose and then win. The only thing they can’t do if they’re to qualify for the true 16-team postseason tournament is go 0-2 in the play-in round.
Who the Celtics will face in the play-in is still up in the air, with the Hornets and Pacers tied at 33-37, and with the Wizards just one game behind ’em at 32-38. The Bulls are still alive, too, as they sit two games behind the Wiz at 30-40 on the year.
Should the Celtics survive the play-in, they would draw a first-round date with the 76ers, Nets, or Bucks in round one.
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