Yesterday, we discussed the likelihood that whoever loses the battle between the Hawks and the C’s for the 3rd seed will face Milwaukee in the 4-5 series. The Bucks won again last night, making them 15-2 since the trade deadline and preserving their four-game lead in the loss column over Charlotte, Miami and Toronto.
About half the readers who commented on yesterday’s post said they don’t care who Boston faces in the first round. The other half said they’d prefer to face a team other than Milwaukee.
One interesting tidbit in all of this: The Celtics could have a major impact on where the Bucks finish and, as a result, who the C’s face in the first round.
The Bucks have about an 80 percent chance of holding onto the 5th spot. That four-game cushion is huge with just a dozen games to go. But: Check out the remaining schedules for Milwaukee, Miami and the Bobcats.
• Opponent record: 360-538 (.400)
• Home/road: 8/5
• Opponent record: 268-496 (.350)
• Home/road: 4/7
• Opponent record: 456-451 (.503)
• Home/road: 8/5
So, yeah: The Heat and Bobcats still have a better-than-you’d expect chance to catch the Bucks. One major reason for the disparity in opponent record: Two of Milwaukee’s final three games are against your very own Boston Celtics.
There are dozens and dozens of scenarios that could play out between now and then. But imagine this scenario: Atlanta and Boston remain in a tight battle for the 3rd seed while Charlotte and/or Miami (both of whom have one game left against the Bucks) creep up on Milwaukee.
What if we end up in a situation where the C’s play hard for the 3rd seed, sweep those two games against the Bucks, and, in the process, knock the Bucks down to the 6th seed—right where Milwaukee would play Boston in the first round? That would be wild.
Is the scenario likely? No. But it’s not completely ridiculous, either. And if you don’t think these silly little late-season scheduling quirks matter, think back to last year. On the last day of the season, Philadelphia needed a win at Cleveland and a Chicago loss (the Bulls were hosting Toronto) to move up from 7th to 6th and shove Chicago down from 6th to 7th.
What happened? The Raptors somehow beat Chicago, and the Cavs, with a chance to match the 1986 Celtics’ 40-1 home record, essentially sat all their regulars against Philly and gave most of their minutes to six bench players. Five of those players are no longer with the Cavs. (Seriously: Check the box score).
Philly won in overtime and earned the 6th seed. The Bulls finished 7th. And I’m still traumatized from what happened after that.