The Knicks (the Knicks!) just beat Orlando on the road, meaning the standings look like this:
So the C’s are two games up with three games to play. To review, the C’s next three games are: @ Cavs, @ Sixers; home to the Wizards on the second game of a back-to-back.
Orlando finishes with three lottery teams: @ Nets, @ Bucks and home against Charlotte.
If I’m going through the tie-breakers correctly, the C’s clinch the second seed with either a single Magic loss or a single C’s win–their magic number, to use some baseball talk, is one. The teams split head to head (2-2), so the next tie-breaker is conference record. The C’s are 39-10 against the Eastern Conference; the Magic are 36-13, meaning the only way Orlando can win a tie-break against the Celtics is to win all three of their remaining games while the C’s finish on a three-game skid. (That same scenario, obviously, would put Orlando ahead by a game in the standings, rendering the tie-breaker moot).
So…we’re almost there. But Orlando should go 3-0 in their final three games, forcing the C’s to snag a win in order to secure the second seed. Obviously, the games at Cleveland and at Philly are not going to be gimmes, not with Philly within range of the fifth seed–and the eighth seed. So, in theory, it could come down to that Wizards game on tax day–and on the second half of a back-to-back.