Celtics

What’s the best-case scenario for Celtics when it comes to playoff seeding?

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES -- Even after a horrific 1-5 start to the after the All-Star Break, the Celtics suddenly find themselves within striking distance of a likely destination since their 10-10 start: the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers defeated the Pacers on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, pulling the two squads into a tie for the No. 3 spot, with the Celtics lurking just one game behind with 15 games to play.

Boston has three head-to-head games remaining against Indy (twice) and Philly (once), putting them very much in control of their own destiny when it comes to playoff positioning in the East. A quick look at the dynamics remaining for all three squads in what should be a race that goes down to the wire for the 3-5 seeds in the East.

Tiebreakers

BOS-IND (1-1, two games remaining)
BOS over PHI (3-0, one game remaining)
PHI over IND (3-1)

Remaining schedules

Sixers (42-25)
Games remaining: 15 (Home: 6 Away: 9)
Games vs. teams ‘fighting’ for playoff spots or positioning: 9
Games against ‘tanking’ opponents: 6
Opponents’ winning percentage: .458 (27th toughest in NBA)

Pacers: (42-25)
Games remaining: 15 (Home: 7; Away: 8)
Games vs. teams ‘fighting’ for playoff spots or positioning: 13
Games against ‘tanking’ opponents: 2
Opponents’ winning percentage: .544 (6th toughest in NBA)

Celtics (41-26)
Games remaining: 15 (Home: 7; Away: 8)
Games vs. teams ‘fighting’ for playoff spots or positioning: 12
Games against ‘tanking’ opponents: 3
Opponents’ winning percentage: .502 (14th toughest in NBA)

So what exactly should Celtics fans be rooting as the final month of the regular season plays out in order to maximize the team’s chances of advancing deep into the postseason? Let’s examine a few notable factors that will loom large with seeding as the playoffs approach.

1. The Bucks are highly likely to win the No. 1 seed: It’s not set in stone just yet, but the Bucks have a 2.5-game lead over the Raptors with 16 games to play and hold the tiebreaker over Toronto with no head-to-head matchups remaining for the Raptors to pick up ground. Toronto has an incredibly easy schedule to close out the year (28th in SOS) but the Bucks path is extremely favorable as well (22th in SOS). Assuming the Bucks maintain good health down the stretch, it’s going to be very tough for Toronto to catch them if Milwaukee is motivated to lock down the top spot (they should be).