BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics have a game Tuesday night, though their clash with the Memphis Grizzlies really doesn’t matter much to the players on the roster. The front office, on the other hand, would greatly appreciate a win.
The Celtics have sewn up the No. 3 seed in the East, and now they’ll wait the next few days for someone to claim the six-seed and become their first-round opponent. But Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies could help the team’s chances at getting a better pick when the NBA Draft finally arrives on Oct. 16.
Enter ‘The Memphis Pick.” It doesn’t have the same cache as “The Brooklyn Pick” did in 2016 and 2017, but it’s an extra pick for Ainge to use in two months.
The Grizzles owe Boston a draft pick, which is top 4 protected this year. Memphis is currently a playoff team in the West, barely hanging on to the eight-seed with a half-game lead over the Blazers and a game advantage over the Spurs and Suns. The West will have a play-in game this weekend to determine the final playoff spot.
It would be in Boston’s — namely Danny Ainge’s — best interest to knock the Grizzlies out of the playoff picture and further into the NBA Draft Lottery. If the Grizzlies make the playoffs, the Celtics will get a mid-round pick, somewhere between Nos. 15-17.
If the Celtics beat the Grizzlies on Tuesday, there’s a chance Memphis could end up out of the playoff picture altogether. That would mean the Celtics would land the No. 14 pick, which isn’t a massive improvement, but it’s slightly more appealing than a non-lottery selection.
Winners of three straight, it looks as though the Celtics have knocked off any lingering rust from a four-month layoff and are ready for the playoffs. They have two more seeding games before their postsesaon tips off, which will likely serve as final tuneups for bench players and a chance at some bubble run for players at the end of their bench.
But it’s looking like the Memphis pick will be the team’s best of their three selections come October (Boston also owns Milwaukee’s pick in addition to their own), and they have a shot to improve that pick ever so slightly with a win on Tuesday. It’s still a meaningless game, just a little less meaningless for Ainge and his staff.