Here are the 3-6 standings in the Eastern Conference on the last day of the season (via ESPN.com):

Tonight the Celtics host the Heat, the Hawks visit Washington and the Hornets play in Orlando.  There's a chance all four teams will end up with identical 48-34 records (if that happens Miami wins the Southeast Division and gets the No. 3 seed, Atlanta is 4th, Boston 5th and Charlotte 6th).  It's also quite possible that the Heat, currently 3rd, will slip all the way to 6th (if the Celtics, Hawks and Hornets each win, probably the most likely scenario).  Below is the entire breakdown of potential outcomes (from Pro Basketball Talk):

The Celtics' opportunity to be 3rd went out the window with the debacle against the Hornets Monday.  At this point, Boston needs some help from the Hawks just to finish 4th and lock down home-court advantage in Round 1.

However, there is an argument to be made that the Celtics might be better off dropping to 6th--I wrote about it three weeks ago:

Unfortunately, there are two issues with this:

1.  These aren't your 2012 Celtics.  Four years ago, Boston faced Atlanta on the last day of the regular season to determine the 4th/5th spots in the East.  Doc Rivers rested everybody, essentially telling the Hawks his playoff-proven club didn't need home court to beat them.  The Celtics lost that game, but won the first-round series in six before eventually falling to LeBron James (then on the Heat) in the Eastern Conference Finals.

C's fans may hope that can happen again, but we have to remember Brad Stevens' squad has yet to win a single playoff game.  Isn't it a bit ridiculous to worry about Round 2?  Reaching the second round is not going to be an easy task, shouldn't Boston do everything it can to improve its chances of getting there?

2. More importantly, the Celtics do not control their own destiny, regardless of what that may be.  Even if they lose to Miami this evening, the C's could still end up as the 5th seed going to Atlanta (the worst-case scanario) if Charlotte loses too--and before you say that won't happen, remember the Hornets laid a stinker against a Wizards club with nothing to play for two games ago.

The NBA also made a point to schedule every game for 8:00 pm tonight (with a few west coast matchups all at 10:30), meaning Boston likely won't have knowledge of any other results ahead of time.

I'm with Coach on this one.  Just play to win, and the rest will take care of itself.  Unless....

That's a wild idea to think about, but it also goes against everything we know about Stevens.  Buckle up C's fans, it's going to be a fun night of basketball.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan

Mark Van Deusen 4/13/2016 01:56:00 PM Edit
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