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Malcolm Brogdon on playoff picture: ‘we want the #1 seed’

The playoffs are still three weeks away, but chase is already on.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Boston Celtics Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Jayson Tatum watching from the sidelines, the Celtics crushed the Spurs in a 44-point blowout and extended their win streak to three games. Tatum could have probably played with a hip pointer, but that shouldn’t be representative of how important Boston sees their final dozen games of the regular season. At 53-21, they’ve surpassed their win total from last season and still in the hunt for more.

I think we’re getting more and more locked in. I think it’s apparent. When Milwaukee took the #1 seed from us after the break, it was sort of a shock to us that we had dropped because we had created some separation between us and them,” Malcolm Brogdon said after finishing with 20 points and nine assists against San Antonio.

“That’s something we want. We want the #1 seed. This team understands the importance of having home court advantage in the playoffs so that’s something we’re going after.”

Eastern Conference Standings on March 26

BUCKS (53-21) CELTICS (52-23) 76ERS (49-25)
BUCKS (53-21) CELTICS (52-23) 76ERS (49-25)
at Pistons at Wizards at Nuggets
at Pacers at BUCKS Mavericks
Celtics Jazz Raptors
76ers at 76ERS at BUCKS
at Wizards Raptors Celtics
Bulls Raptors Heat
Grizzlies Hawks at Hawks
at Raptors at Nets

The Celtics are currently a game and a half behind the Bucks and up two and a half games on the 76ers (with the tiebreaker already in their pocket after winning their first three meetings).

According to Tankathon, Philadelphia and Boston have the toughest and fifth toughest remaining regular season schedules respectively with much of that difficulty weighted by their head-to-head matchups heading into the final two weeks. For what it’s worth, Milwaukee ranks 14th in SOS.

All eyes will be on Milwaukee’s two-game homestand this week. After they wrap up their four-game road trip, the Bucks will be on the back end of a back-to-back when they host the Celtics on Thursday, but then have a three-day rest before the 76ers on Sunday. Those two games will go a long way in determining the top of the East and who could see each other in the second round.

And if you’re looking at the play-in tournament and potential first round matchups, there’s just as much intrigue there as there is at the top of the conference standings. With the Nets’ freefall since trading away Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, they’ve lost six of their last seven games and sit 6th at 40-35. The Heat haven’t taken advantage of Brooklyn’s shortcomings and are just .500 (8-8) since the All-Star break with an identical record. Per the Celtics’ play-by-play announcer Sean Grande, here are the odds for Boston’s first round opponent:

The Celtics have repeatedly said that seeding doesn’t matter. “Obviously, seeding is important,” Jaylen Brown said. “But how you’re playing is more important. I was more focused on how we were playing than what our seed was. I thought that even though we were the best team in the league for a large majority of this season, it was stretches in this season where we were winning games because we were better than teams, but we weren’t playing the way we were capable of.”

They know how important home court advantage and maybe more so, matchups matter in the playoffs. They won two Game 7s — one at home against the Bucks and the Eastern Conference Finals at Miami-Dade Arena — last year and have been the best road team in the league this year (24-14). But the #1 seed in the East (and home court advantage throughout the playoffs including The Finals) could mean not having to face both the Bucks and the 76ers this summer. They’ve consistently been two of the best teams and considered legitimate contenders all year.

The play-in tournament starts on April 11th and playoff games won’t start until four days later, but postseason intensity is already here.

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