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Fear the Deer? The C’s Will Have Their Say

 

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.

Charlotte:

• Opponent record: 360-538 (.400)

• Home/road: 8/5

Miami:

• Opponent record: 268-496 (.350)

• Home/road: 4/7

Milwaukee:

• 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.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Brian Robb

    Interesting thoughts Zach, and you’re dead on about the possibility remaining that the Heat or Bobcats sneak into that spot. The Heat’s last 8 games will be against teams fighting for nothing.

    Two things though I researched this, make the Bucks in the 5 seed all but a formality.

    1) Bucks own the head to head tiebreaker over both Bobcats and Heat, giving them essentially a 5 game lead right now.

    2) Bucks are 15-2 in their last 17 games. Given this rate, I’d say worst case scenario, they go 5-7 or 6-6 in their final 12 games. That means at minimum, Bobcats/Heat would have to go 10-2 or most likely 11-1 in those final 12 games to even have a chance. That’s just not happening with either of those teams, no matter how bad their schedule is.

    This is good news though for the C’s, potentially since if Bucks clinch 5 seed early, they will have nothing to play for down the stretch. It will also be interesting to see how Bucks will play out last 3 games, as they almost will be able to choose between Hawks and The C’s who they want to play, if there is just a game difference at that point in the standings.

  • urbeltic

    It feels strange worrying about playing …. the Bucks.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    interesting take…..there may indeed be some positioning for matchups as the final games appear (read: possibly questionable effort in an attempt to maybe lose).

    also agree that the bucks are potential threat. although charlotte is equally quirky and dangerous team in the 4-8 in the east. but i’m not so fussed. if a team can’t get through the almighty bucks or bobs, then its not really a championship contender anyways. and i like the idea of how entertaining those series could be. the heat are painful to watch.

    looking forward to the playoffs already. and i’m very happy it looks like the Cs will not have to face the hawks unless it would be in the conference championships….that is the matchup i fear most. bring on the magic and cavs.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    I think the Heat will fold like a cheap suit in the playoffs. Wade is pissed, Beasley is fragile and the rest of the guys have one foot out the door.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @zach agree. i think the heat totally suck if wade isn’t getting a zillion calls….which he won’t if they don’t have a ‘winning aura’. but i’m being selfish as a fan….a bobs or bucks matchup would be a zillion times more fun to watch.

  • Jack Sprat

    Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference is playing on NBAtv right now, and wow does it feel like more than two years have passed. It’s just a completely different team to watch.

    I’m actually hoping for a Celtics-Bucks series slightly more than the other ones. Between their similar defensive styles, the Bogut-Perkins match-up, and just how much fun the Bucks have been to watch this season, it has the makings of a pretty sick series.

    That, and I’ll be at the Bradley Center for the April 10th game…anyone know how to talk shit in Australian (slang)?

  • Jack Sprat

    *Eastern Conference semis

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Jack: You the Eastern semis vs the Cavs? The C’s eliminated DET in six in the ECF.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    Jinx!

  • JP

    I think a C’s Bucks series would be a lot of fun to watch, although I think the Bucks pose matchup problems with the C’s. If the Celts get the Bobcats in the first round though, it will go a long way to helping their title chances. The C’s have owned the Bobcats this year and the series would probably be over in 4-5 games, meaning the Celts would be more rested for a 2nd round series against the Magic or Cavs.

  • Perry

    With all due respect you guys are missing the point about procuring the 3 seed. The caveat of course is avoiding Cleveland in the semis. Celts had a golden opportunity to take possession of the 3 seed last night off the Atlanta loss.

    I understand a trip to the finals will go through Cleveland, so they must be dealt with at some juncture. But does anybody believe the progression would be easier playing the Bucks, Cavs, and the 2/3 winner owning home court in the conference finals?

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Perry: I believe Brian Robb is going to address the Cleveland/Orlando issue shortly.

  • Perry

    @Zach: Thanks Zach.

  • I love Green

    I want the 3 seed so we can get Orlando, and so Atlanta can get Cleveland. Atlanta had two really close games with Cleveland this year, so i think that would be a good series.

  • What More Can I Say?

    I refuse to fear a frickin deer.

    I ain’t mad if the C’s don’t play them though. (;-P

  • rondoislove

    I have a couple questions.

    Player wise, how experienced are the Bucks when it comes to playoffs? I looked up the Bucks as a team and they haven’t made the playoffs since the ’05-06 season, where they lost in the first round to Detroit in five games. I’m just asking because obviously the roster has changed since then. As much of a nail biter last year’s first round with Chicago was, if my memory serves me right… analysts were saying it was Chicago’s inexperience/Boston’s experience that determined the winner. What do you guys think?

    Also.. ESPNBoston and CelticsHub are saying two different things about who owns the tiebreaker for seeding. Is it Boston (division leader) or Atlanta (season sweep)?

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @rondo: There is massive confusion about this around the league, even among the smartest observers out there. As I understand it from reading the NBA’s rulebook and ESPN’s own interpretation of it, the Celtics, by virtue of being a division winner, hold the tie-breaker.

    To be honest, I had thought it would go the opposite way before a reader corrected me. Can you post the ESPNBoston link that you’re referring to?

  • rondoislove

    @Zach:

    Sure. I actually just read it today.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nba/columns/story?columnist=may_peter&id=5020467

    In the paragraph that starts “Seeding” towards the bottom, he writes…

    “The Celtics failed to gain any ground against Atlanta. (They’re tied, but the Hawks own the tiebreaker.)”

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  • Rav

    About the seeding:

    I always thought as division winners, we’d have 3rd seed at the lowest. But home-court advantage is given according to regular-season record.

  • Rav

    Edit to above post:

    I just checked Wikipedia, and the NBA’s playoff seeding primer (http://www.nba.com/features/seedingprimer07.html). It seems that the first four seeds are given in order of record. So if ATL has a better record than us, they’re #3

    But if we have the same record, we have the tiebreaker, because a division championship is considered above the head-to-head record. So as long as we have the same or better record than the Hawks, we’ll be seed #3.

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  • Carlos R.

    Seems to me that deep down we all know the C’s will not be NBA champs this season. I mean, if they were a true contender, why worry about the possible opponent in the FIRST ROUND?

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