Buckle up, folks. The next 24 hours should be a wild ride.
The NBA’s regular season concludes Wednesday with a busy 12-game slate that finally will sort out the incredibly messy Eastern and Western Conference playoff races.
The Boston Celtics have the East’s No. 2 seed sewn up, but they still don’t know their first-round opponent, as the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Washington Wizards are mired in that mess.
One of those three clubs is guaranteed to earn the No. 7 seed and draw Boston in Round 1. But what are the possible scenarios? It’s complicated, but here’s a handy guide to help simplify things for you.
First, here are the three games Celtics fans should be scoreboard-watching Wednesday night during Boston’s meaningless season finale against the Brooklyn Nets. (They all start at 8 p.m. ET.)
— Heat vs. Toronto Raptors
— Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers
— Wizards at Orlando Magic
And here are the eight potential outcomes for those games, filtered by who Boston will face based on each result (hat tip to 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics play-by-play man Sean Grande):
The Celtics play the Heat in Round 1 if…
— Heat win, Bucks win, Wizards win
— Heat win, Bucks win, Wizards lose
— Heat lose, Bucks win, Wizards lose
— Heat lose, Bucks lose, Wizards lose
The Celtics play the Bucks in Round 1 if…
— Heat win, Bucks lose, Wizards lose
— Heat lose, Bucks lose, Wizards win
The Celtics play the Wizards in Round 1 if…
— Heat lose, Bucks win, Wizards win
— Heat win, Bucks lose, Wizards win
Prediction: Celtics play Bucks (Heat lose, Bucks lose, Wizards win)
Here’s good news for Celtics fans hoping to avoid the Wizards in Round 1. Philly has the East’s No. 3 seed at stake and should be motivated to beat Milwaukee. Toronto is locked into the No. 1 seed but can secure its first 60-win season in franchise history by defeating Miami. The Raptors also boast one of the best benches in the league and could take care of the Heat even if they rest their starters. The tanking Magic literally have incentive to lose.
As our own Nicholas Goss wrote Tuesday night, this is the best possible outcome for Boston, as it also would avoid a second-round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers should the C’s advance.
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