Celtics

Why Celtics-Sixers showdown won’t mean much for playoff picture

(Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Celtics are down in Philadelphia for one final matchup with the Sixers during the regular season on Wednesday night. Boston will be going for a series sweep in the matchup but a loss tonight would effectively pencil Boston into the four/five slot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs simply due to the sizable gap that has already built up in the standings. Would a win really do that much for Boston to close the gap? A closer look at the remaining schedules for all three teams in the mix for the 3-5 seeds (Philadelphia, Indiana, Boston) explains why this matchup shouldn't mean much in the bigger picture for Boston.

Standings

  1. Sixers (46-25)
  2. Pacers (44-28) 2.5 GB
  3. Celtics (43-28) 3 GB

Tiebreakers

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

Remaining schedules

Sixers (46-25)
Games remaining: 11 (Home: 4 Away: 7)
Games vs. teams ‘fighting’ for playoff spots or positioning: 5
Games against ‘tanking’ opponents: 6
Opponents’ winning percentage: .443 (28th toughest in NBA)

Pacers: (44-28)
Games remaining: 10 (Home: 5 Away: 5)
Games vs. teams ‘fighting’ for playoff spots or positioning: 9
Games against ‘tanking’ opponents: 1
Opponents’ winning percentage: .549 (6th toughest in NBA)

Celtics (43-28)
Games remaining: 11 (Home: 4 Away: 7)
Games vs. teams ‘fighting’ for playoff spots or positioning: 9
Games against ‘tanking’ opponents: 2
Opponents’ winning percentage: .503 (16th toughest in NBA)

Analysis: Even with the Celtics owning the tiebreaker over the Sixers despite the result of tonight’s game, there is no way Boston is going to make up a four-game deficit in the standings with just 10 games to play. The Celtics only have two ‘easy’ games left on the schedule compared to six for Philadelphia. Brad Stevens has also announced plans to rest Al Horford and Kyrie Irving for multiple games down the stretch, which makes a strong finish (8-3 or 7-4) a bit of a long shot. It would take a momentous collapse by the Sixers for the Celtics to pass them with that kind of record if Philly takes care of business tonight.

Even if Boston does win tonight, they will face an uphill climb to reach No. 3 and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.