As a result of a random drawing held Friday in New York, the Celtics lost a tiebreaker with the Utah Jazz for the fourth-best odds in the 2014 NBA draft lottery.
In the sense of landing a top-three pick, falling to fifth isn’t fatal. The Celtics will have 103 chances in the May 20 lottery, while the Jazz will have 104. The Milwaukee Bucks, who finished with the league’s worst record, will have 250 chances.
Losing the tiebreaker matters more if the Celtics fail to win a pick in the top three. The Celtics still have better than a one-in-10 chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick and still hold better than a 33 percent chance of picking third or better. But their strongest odds of winning any single pick now fall from a 37.3 percent chance of picking fifth to a 34.2 percent chance of picking sixth.
In other words, it is more likely the Celtics choose sixth (34.2 percent) than first, second or third (33.4 percent). They cannot pick fourth.
Also, the lowest the Celtics could pick now falls to No. 8. It would have been No. 7 had they won the tiebreaker (or lost one extra game during the season). Because the lottery only draws for the top three picks and orders the remaining 4 through 14 based on record, the Celtics would fall to eighth if three teams with worse records win top-three picks. The likelihood of this is slim — 0.3 percent — but given Boston’s history in the lottery, fans surely will be prepared for the worst.
On the bright side for the Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets won their tiebreaker with the Washington Wizards for the 17th pick. That pick belongs to the Celtics as a result of the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade.
If all of this is hard to make sense of, check out the helpful chart over at Celtics.com and just swap Boston and Utah in the standings.