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The NBA season is winding down. Playoff positions are still on the line in both conferences, but so is lottery positioning for many teams. Particularly the four through six spots in the lottery -- which is exactly where the Boston Celtics find themselves smack dab in the middle.

After a Celtics loss on Monday, they are now the lone owners of the fifth lottery position with 25-wins. They are sandwiched between the Jazz (24-wins) who lost to the Lakers (26-wins) on Monday. The trio of teams each have only one game remaining: the Celts host the Wizards, the Jazz play in Minnesota and the Lakers play in San Antonio.

The Wizards will be playing for playoff positioning, so the Celtics should recieve their best shot. The Spurs are locked into the top-seed in the West and the Timberwolves are out of the playoff picture. This leaves a few possible outcomes.

1. The Celtics maintain the fifth lottery position: Technically this can happen in two different ways, but realistically if all three teams lose, then the standings hold as is. The other option would be if both the Celtics and Lakers were to win, which seems pretty unlikely at this stage. The Jazz could win or lose in that scenario and hold the fourth lottery odds either way.

If either of these options happen, Boston has the fifth lottery position to themselves. This would yield an 8.8% chance at the top-pick, and a 29.1% chance at a top-three pick. Otherwise they select anywhere from 5th-8th depending on if any teams below Boston (in terms of lottery odds) jump into the top-three.

2. The Celtics tie with the Jazz for the fourth lottery position: This scenario occurs if the Jazz win and the Celtics lose. This means they would split the odds of the fourth and fifth lottery spots. It results in both teams having a 10.3% chance at selecting first-overall, and a 33.5% chance at a top-three pick.

Now, if neither team is fortunate enough to win a top-three pick, a coin flip would determine who gets the higher pick. The winner would pick between 4th-7th, the loser 5th-8th, depending once again on if and how many teams rise into the top-three with lower lottery odds.

3. The Celtics tie with the Lakers for the fifth lottery position: If the Celtics do indeed end up beating the Wizards, while the Lakers fall to the Spurs, another tie would occur. This time the Celtics and Lakers would split the average of the fifth and sixth lottery positions. This presents much less desirable odds of 7.5% to end up first-overall, and a 25.3% chance at selecting in the top-three.

Again, if neither team ends up in the top-three, a coin flip takes place. The winner would select 5th-8th, and the loser 6th-9th. As you know by now, this rides on other teams leapfrogging into the top-three.

Confused yet? Well, that's because it's pretty confusing.

But if you followed along, then you know this: with one game left, the Celtics could still pick anywhere from 1st-9th in the draft. So basically, we know nothing.

We will get some clarification after Wednesday night when we know exactly where the C's end up (and after the coin flip if one is necessary). But again, this will only clarify exactly what the Celtics odds are. We get our answers on May 20th when the draft lottery takes place, then we know with certainty what chip Danny Ainge will hold.

Follow Julian on Twitter @julianedlow

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Source: ESPN Boston

Julian Edlow 4/15/2014 01:04:00 PM Edit
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