By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Nearly everything that could have gone right went right for the Celtics across the NBA on Monday night. A win by the C’s over the Nets combined with Cavs loss in Miami put the Green in control of their own destiny in the race for the top seed in the East with Game 82 of the regular season looming on Wednesday night.
There are plenty of variables that remain in place for the East playoff pictures with just one night remaining in the regular season. Here’s an updated look at those scenarios and how other matchups could impact Boston’s chances of earning the top spot as well as first round matchups. .
The Celtics win the No. 1 seed if…
–They beat the Bucks on Wednesday night or the Cavs lose to the Raptors in Cleveland.
The Celtics win the No. 2 seed if…
–They lose to the Bucks and the Cavs beat the Raptors
Will the Bucks have anything to play for Wednesday night?
Probably not. The Hawks beat the Hornets on Tuesday, so Milwaukee is locked into the No. 6 seed. It’s already been reported that Jason Kidd will rest many of his best players, so the Celtics won’t see the actual Bucks on Wednesday.
How will Cavs and Raptors approach Wednesday’s game?
The guess here is the Raptors will not be fielding a full lineup, since it’s in their best interest to avoid Cleveland in the second round. Ty Lue may prioritize rest again Wednesday for some of his stars, but he’ll surely be playing to win with the No. 1 seed still technically in play. Jason Lloyd of the Athletic is reporting that LeBron James will sit out to rest, but Kyrie Irving could suit up after sitting out Monday’s loss to Miami.
Who could the Celtics face in the first round?
The list of potential opponents for Boston has been narrowed down to three teams: the Bulls, Pacers and Heat. This is another positive development for the C’s, as the scariest opponents for Boston (Milwaukee, Atlanta) are locked into the No. 5-6 seeds.
If the favorites take care of business on Wednesday night (C’s beat Bucks, Bulls beat Nets, Pacers beat Hawks at home), then the Celtics will face off with the No. 8 seeded Bulls in the first round. If the Celtics end up stumbling against the Bucks, then the odds are they will face off with the Pacers in the 2 vs. 7 matchup.
Here’s the full breakdown of seeding scenarios heading into the last day of the regular season:
Games Celtics Fans Should Be Watching On Wednesday
Brooklyn at Chicago –– A Bulls win would qualify them for the playoffs. They would be the No. 8 seed unless the Pacers lose Wednesday, which would bump them to No. 7.
Atlanta at Indiana — If Pacers win, they will be the No. 7 seed in the East. The Hawks have nothing to play after Tuesday’s win over the Hornets. If Indiana loses, they still make playoffs unless Heat and Bulls both win.
Washington at Miami –– The Heat need to win and get some help. They need the Pacers or Heat to lose in order to earn No. 7 or No. 8 seed.
Toronto at Cleveland — A Cavs loss will clinch the No. 1 seed for the Celtics.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.