Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 10: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics takes a shot between Trendon Watford #9 and Lonnie Walker IV #8 of the Brooklyn Nets during the second hafl of their In-Season Tournament game at TD Garden on November 10, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Nets 121-107. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Group Stage of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament wraps up on Tuesday night with eight games. There’s still plenty at stake, with four of the six groups still up for grabs as well as the Wild Card spots in both conferences. The winners of each group, plus the top second-place team overall in each conference, will move on to the tournament itself in Las Vegas starting next week.

As the Boston Celtics get ready to host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, everything is still on the table. At 2-1 they are currently in second place in East Group C, half a game behind the Orlando Magic (who are 3-1 and off on Tuesday) and tied with the Brooklyn Nets (who are 2-1 and play Toronto on Tuesday night). The Magic own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Celtics, and the Celtics hold it over the Nets.

Depending on what happens on Tuesday night the Celtics can win their group, earn the Eastern Conference Wild Card spot, or be eliminated. A win doesn’t guarantee them a spot in the quarterfinals, but is needed if they still want to win the group outright.

So, what should Celtics fans be rooting for on Tuesday night? Here is a look at the scenarios…

  • To win Group C

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 15: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 15, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 15: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 15, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

    If the Celtics want to win the group outright, they need the Nets to win. A Celtics win and Nets loss would leave Boston and Orlando alone at the top of the group at 3-1, and the Magic have that head-to-head tiebreaker.

    Because the Nets have a head-to-head win over the Magic though, a three-way tie of 3-1 teams would trigger the second tie-breaker – scoring margin. Right now the Celtics are last in that regard. The Magic have a plus-22 scoring margin locked in, and the Nets are at plus-eight, plus however much they’d win by on Tuesday. The Celtics’ scoring margin is even.

    So for the Celtics to clinch Group C they need to not just win, but win by 23 points plus however much the Nets would beat the Raptors by. If that scoring margin number ends up tied the Celtics would likely be eliminated by the third tiebreaker, which is total points (the Celtics have scored 325 points so far in the tournament, the nets 340, and the Magic 446).

  • To clinch the Wild Card

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 10: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second half of their In-Season Tournament game at TD Garden on November 10, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Nets 121-107. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 10: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second half of their In-Season Tournament game at TD Garden on November 10, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Nets 121-107. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The Wild Card scenarios are a bit more complex with the tiebreakers. However, the Celtics do have a path to clinch outright. They’d need to win, and then have the following four teams lose (all four are at home on Tuesday night)…

    –Brooklyn Nets (vs. Toronto Raptors)
    –New York Knicks (vs. Charlotte Hornets)
    –Miami Heat (vs. Milwaukee Bucks)
    –Cleveland Cavaliers (vs. Atlanta Hawks)

    Those results strung together would leave the Celtics as the lone 3-1 second-place team. That would hand them the Wild Card without any tiebreakers.

    If not all of those teams lose and there is another 3-1 second-place team, then the Celtics could get in with a win on tiebreakers. For that to happen, they’ll still need to eclipse the Nets to be the second-place team in Group C.

    There’s a third scenario in which the Celtics can get in with a loss. It’s basically the inverse of the first clinching scenario. If the Celtics lose along with those other four teams, there will be a tie among 2-2 second-place teams. If the Celtics managed to come out with the best scoring margin, they’d back into the tournament.

    Anything short of the scenarios listed above, and the Celtics are done with the in-season tournament for 2023. They tip-off on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the BetMGM Celtics Radio Network.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.

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