Well, the No. 1 seed pipe dream was fun while it lasted.
The Boston Celtics all but sealed their fate as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday night, losing to the Raptors in Toronto to drop three games back of the No. 1 seed with just four games remaining on their schedule.
Most expected the C’s to wind up with the No. 2 seed, anyway. But which team they’ll draw in the first round remains very much up in the air. Here’s a handy look at the East standings as of Thursday morning and the remaining schedules of Boston’s potential opponents, via NBC Sports Boston:
Barring a Toronto collapse, the Celtics will play the No. 7 seed in the first round, which right now looks like a total toss-up. But why not have some fun and predict how the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks will finish based on their remaining schedules?
Why not, indeed. Below is a ranking of who will most likely finish as the No. 7 seed and face the C’s in Round 1 — with explanations included.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (projected finish: 45-37, 7th)
The Bucks’ next three games are against some of the worst teams in the East — the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic — then close out against a Philadelphia 76ers team that could already have its playoff fate decided. Even if Milwaukee loses to Philly or the scrappy Nets, a 3-1 finish against these opponents seems perfectly reasonable. The Bucks nip the Wizards by a game and avoid another first-round date with the Raptors.
2. Washington Wizards (projected finish: 44-38, 8th)
Anything can happen, of course, but the Wiz beating the bottom-dwelling Atlanta Hawks and Magic but falling to the playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers and Celtics seems like a very plausible scenario. The X-factor is John Wall, who just returned from injury and insists he wants to play against the C’s and Cavs.
3. Miami Heat (projected finish: 45-37, 6th)
The Heat have a game in hand on both clubs and also hold the tie-breaker over Milwaukee. The Knicks should present little trouble, and Toronto likely will be resting a few starters in the season finale with the No. 1 seed wrapped up. Miami goes 2-1 down the stretch to secure the No. 6 seed, setting up a first-round rematch with old friend LeBron James and the Cavs.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Images