It is tempting to think that the difference between the 3rd and 4th seed is minimal. Both only secure home court for the first round (and I have to sarcastically wonder if that's much of an advantage for this year's team). But upon further investigation, I would say that it could mean a lot to get that 3rd seed.
Check out this bracket (hat tip to poster 33_32_00best for finding that). Assuming there isn't too much more movement in the standings, we could potentially see some much better matchups out of the 3 seed than the 4. First of all, the good news is that in all likely hood, the Hawks and Celtics will be the 3rd and 4th seeds, so we won't face each other until the Eastern Conference Finals (if both teams make it that far).
In theory, the first round matchup for the 3rd seed would be with someone like the Heat, with the Raptors or Bobcats as possibilities as well. None of those teams can for sure say that they are even making the playoffs yet. The 2nd round matchup would likely be the very strong Orlando Magic, but I like the way we match up with them, especially in a 7 game series. Then we wouldn't have to see the Cavs (or Hawks for that matter) until the ECFs.
Compare that to the 4th seed. The first round matchup is against the Bucks - who are a solid 5 seed looking real good since the trade deadline. Then the 2nd round matchup would be with the Cavs. Then there's still a chance we would have to go through the Hawks in the ECFs. Not an easy road.
So before we write off the rest of the regular season as meaningless warmups for the playoffs, lets keep an eye on the standings and see how these seeds work themselves out, shall we?