## What are the chances? A look at Celtics' shot at each seed

It's that time of the year again when I try to wrap my head around all the tiebreaker rules and different scenarios so that I can get a clear picture of where the Celtics stand. I wish there were someone else to do that for me, but hey, I've already done the math so why should you suffer the headache?

I'll use FiveThirtyEight's Carm-ELO ratings system and the associated win probabilities for each game for the following probabilistic calculations. (Odds may not add up to 100% due to rounding errors.)
 An ex-Celtic helped me write this post.

1. Celtics get 3rd seed: 20.3%

How: Atlanta loses out, Boston wins out (17.3%) OR Atlanta loses out, Boston loses to Charlotte but beats Miami, Miami beats Detroit (Boston wins 3-way tiebreaker)* (3.0%).

It might seem unlikely, but the Cavs have to win at least one game to clinch 1st seed and they lost to Pistons twice already this season, so they wouldn't want a last minute surprise on Wednesday and play hard against the Hawks. The Wizards, Atlanta's opponent on Wednesday, are playing for a .500 record for the rest of the season, they have already helped the Celtics by beating the Hornets yesterday and they've beaten the Hawks twice this season (granted, the Hawks have caught fire for the past month but hey, one can only hope).

3-way tiebreaker scenario sounds crazy yet there is a 3% chance it might happen, so you know, why not?

2. Celtics get 4th seed: 58%

How: Atlanta wins a game AND Boston beats Miami (50.4%) OR Boston beats Charlotte, loses to Miami but Miami loses to Detroit. (%7.6)

Miami will be playing a back-to-back on the road against Boston on Wednesday (advantage Celtics) yet they beat the Pistons handily last week so I don't know how tough of a matchup that will be for them. Detroit has clinched a playoff seed, yet 7th is better than 8th so they have a reason to play hard.

3. Celtics get 5th seed: 15.1%

How: Boston loses out, Charlotte loses to Orlando (1.8%) OR Miami wins out, Boston defeats Charlotte (9.4%) OR Miami loses to Detroit but beats Boston, Boston beats Charlotte and Atlanta loses out (Boston loses 3-way tiebreaker) (3.9%)

This looks complicated, but what it comes down to is this: If Boston beats Miami on Wednesday, they either get the 3rd or 4th seed. Beat the Heat!

4. Celtics get 6th seed: 6.3%

How: Boston loses out, Charlotte wins out.

Not only this makes Boston lose homecourt advantage but losing to Charlotte and Miami right before the Playoffs is a bad, bad omen. This cannot happen. Come on.

*To clarify, here are the tiebreaker rules. If more than two teams are tied, they first look at the games played among the tied teams. In that mini league, Atlanta is 4-4, Miami and Boston are 3-3. So whoever wins the final game gets the upper hand in the quite improbable tiebreaker scenarios.

Photo courtesy of Jeremiah E. Burke High School.
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