Could it be in the Celtics best interests to lose to the Knicks?
"You're in my head Paul."
I'm mad at myself for thinking this. It's contradictory to the nature of sports. And I'm going to the game tonight, so I can't imagine I'll actually be sitting there in the Garden not rooting for the Celtics. But there is strong argument to be made that at this point the easiest road to postseason success could involve losing to New York tonight (and on Sunday).
Since a top 2 or 3 seed is now out of the question, I am of the opinion that the best case scenario for Boston is the 6th or 7th spot, which would allow the C's to avoid the Heat until the conference finals. There are 3 likely potential first round opponents for the Celtics: the Knicks, the Pacers, or the Nets. Indiana and Brooklyn scare me. New York does not. Boston has a mental edge over the Knicks stemming from 5 years of domination. A Knicks-Celtics round one series would also be wildly entertaining and easily the most exciting matchup of the three.
Currently New York is in the 3rd spot, trailing Indiana by half a game, and leading Brooklyn by two. The Celtics are in 7th, two games back of Atlanta and Chicago. Boston could face the Knicks via 2 vs 7 or 3 vs 6, but the 3/6 scenario seems a lot more difficult to accomplish. The Celts would have to hope the Knicks play poorly enough not to catch the Pacers, but well enough to stay ahead of the Nets. Meanwhile Boston would need to pass either the Hawks or the Bulls, but not both.
It'd be a lot less complicated for the Celtics to play .500 basketball the rest of the way (especially with KG out two weeks), get some rest, stay put at #7, and do their best to ensure the Knicks finish #2 in the East. Boston has one game remaining each with the Pacers and the Nets in which they could help out New York, as well as the two head to head contests; this evening, and at MSG on Sunday.
I'm not saying the Celtics should tank this game tonight, or that I won't be cheering for them. But in terms of the greater good, a loss might accomplish more than a win.