The Boston Celtics vanquished another competitor for their postseason spot Wednesday night with a win over the Detroit Pistons, eliminating them from playoff contention. The win for the C's, partnered with a Brooklyn loss, moved Boston up to the 7th seed in the East with only four games remaining.
A spot in the postseason is within their grasp, but the Celtics still have some work left to do. Here's where they stand and what you need to know about the playoff race heading into the final stretch.
Scoreboard Watching (games of note):
Celtics (36-42) beat Pistons (30-48), 113-103
Hawks (59-19) beat Nets (36-42), 114-111
Pacers (35-43) beat Knicks (15-63), 102-86
Raptors (46-32) beat Hornets (33-45), 92-74
Cavaliers (51-27) beat Bucks (38-40), 104-99
6. Bucks (38-40)
7. Celtics (36-42)
8. Nets (36-42)
9. Pacers (35-43)
10. Heat (35-43)
11. Hornets (33-45)
Upcoming Key Games:
Bulls (46-32) at Heat (35-43)
Tiebreakers (via Forsberg):
Boston owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Brooklyn (won season series, 3-1)
Miami owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Boston (won season series, 3-1)
Boston owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Indiana (won season series, 3-1)
Boston and Charlotte split their head-to-head series (2-2); the next tiebreaker is conference record (Boston is currently 24-24, Charlotte is 25-23)
What to watch for:
Cleveland's win over Milwaukee means that the Cavs have now locked up the No. 2 seed in the East. That could turn out to be a blessing for the Celtics, who face Cleveland twice in a row to wrap up the week. With their playoff seeding secured, Cleveland may rest some of their starters down the stretch. If LeBron James and his pair of All-Star sidekicks sit out at least one of those games, Boston's remaining schedule looks a lot less daunting.
Also worth noting is that the loss by the Bucks drops them to a mere 2 game edge over Boston, which means the C's could conceivably move up as far as the 6th seed. Milwaukee is stumbling to the finish line, losing 10 of their last 14 games. Unfortunately, two of their remaining four games are against the lowly Knicks and Sixers. Making matters worse, the Bucks own the tiebreaker over Boston by virtue of winning their first two head-to-head match ups. Giving the Celtics a sliver of hope is that they finish the season in Milwaukee, allowing them to control their own destiny if they somehow end up tied heading into that final game.