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There's a part of me that is really jealous of those folks that just cannot bring themselves to root against the Celtics. Those people still rooting for wins, who could care less about lottery position and don't spend hours upon hours breaking down the remaining schedules of the teams the Cs are competing with. It just seems like a far more peaceful way to go through a basketball season than having to root against your team, all for more ping pong balls that don't guarantee you a damn thing.

However, that's not me. I am the guy breaking down the schedules, handicapping the tanking field as we head down the stretch run. And because of that, last night was not all that enjoyable to me. 

Don't get me wrong, it was fun to watch Rondo punk the Heat like old times. And it was really nice to see Avery Bradley back and playing like a guy you wouldn't mind paying $6 million this summer. And whenever Miami leaves the floor losers, an angel gets their wings. So I'm not saying I was kicking and screaming watching it all go down, there were definitely some enjoyable moments. 

But the bottom line is that last night's game was a pretty terrible win when it comes to the tank rank. 

The Cs entered last night in fourth place in the lottery standings, a position that gives you 119 ping pong balls come May 20th (11.9% chance at the #1 pick), and a 37.8% chance at a top-three pick. Not the best spot in the world, but pretty solid. 

But the standings are so close that the one win pushed Boston back to sixth place, which would give them only 63 ping pong balls (6.3% chance at the #1 pick) and a 21.5% chance at a top-three pick. 

Look at those numbers again, Boston's odds dropped by nearly half because of one win! That's how close things are between the Celtics, Lakers (who lost last night), Jazz (ditto) and Kings. 

Now I get it -- the season doesn't end today. Taking this snapshot in time and talking about the ramifications is not all that valuable with 13 games left on the schedule. While there are not a ton of games left, there is still plenty of time for the race to shift quite a bit before the end of the season. 

That said, the Celtics still have two more automatic wins against the Sixers, plus winnable games against the Pistons, Hawks, Cavaliers and Bobcats (plus two each against non-juggernauts Washington, Chicago and Toronto, and one against the Nets). Last night was the last game of the season that Boston played a team with a winning percentage north of .570, and a strong chance to add another loss to the ledger (obviously LeBron being out didn't help). 

Compare that to Utah who plays five more games against teams with a .590 winning percentage or better, the Lakers (who play seven) and the Kings (who play eight) -- and it's easy to see why the Cs are fairly unlikely to find themselves in the top-five of the lottery standings. 

Anything is possible in basketball, but it just starting to feel like the Celtics are a little too talented, and a little too well coached to outlast some of these other teams. Not that they're good, but the combination of a soft schedule, a superstar, a good coach and some solid role players is no way to go about grabbing one of the worst records in the league. 

But all is not lost. Ping pong luck has been the one type of luck that has eluded this franchise for years, but that kind of luck can't last forever. Maybe this is the season where we lower our lottery expectations and then cash in.


Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13

For more of my articles, click here

Michael Dyer 3/20/2014 01:33:00 PM Edit
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