After leading all game, the Hawks collapsed in the third quarter against the Wizards, and despite a 4th-quarter push, Atlanta couldn't take care of business and seal up the No. 3 seed like the Celtics would've wanted. For people like me getting ready to rock the Garden in the playoffs after the Celts erased a 26-point deficit in a wake-up performance and won by 10, we'll now have to wait.
An Atlanta win would've given the Cs the edge in a three-way tie between Boston, Charlotte (who beat the Magic 117-103), and Miami, but instead all four teams end the season tied at 48-34.
So the Celtics will have a chance to make the Hawks pay sooner rather than later, as Boston stands at third in the tiebreaker between the four teams (since the Heat won their division and Hawks own the tiebreaker with Cs). The Hawks will now host the Celtics in Atlanta for game one, and the winner of the series will be lined up against the winner of Cavaliers vs. Pistons.
It's been a season of overcoming the odds for Boston, and they'll have to do it again to make the charge to the Eastern Conference Finals that many of us are expecting out of them. Atlanta beat Boston three times this year and by double figures in both home games. The Cs lost the home court advantage they coveted, and now they will be faced with Cleveland (barring a Detroit miracle) should they beat out the Hawks. A triple threat of challenges.
On the bright side, the Nets blew their lead as well, and they'll finish the season ahead of the Suns in the lottery standings, giving the Celtics lone possession of the third-best odds in the NBA Lottery this spring.
But Boston isn't complaining about its positioning. As they've said for a week, the focus was on playing well going into the playoffs rather than seeding, and they certainly did that tonight in dramatic fashion. Stevens said after the game he wanted the Celtics to find themselves before the playoffs and they certainly did that.
So here we go. The moment we've all been waiting for. After 48 thrilling wins in a fantastic 82 game season, the Celtics can show the world what they're made of in the postseason. It's on! Here's the schedule:
The Celtics schedule for Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs has been released. pic.twitter.com/U2M0VLSVOh— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 14, 2016