Schedule breakdown of East's 3-6 playoff teams: Celtics' path to 3rd seed is difficult but attainable

The third, fourth, fifth and six place teams in the Eastern Conference all have 31 losses with eight games remaining (six for Atlanta).  What do the Celtics have to do to lock up the No. 3 seed?


I'm guessing that's the magic number to grab home court advantage in Round 1 and likely avoid LeBron and the Cavs in Round 2.  A 49-33 record should get the job done.  Here are the remaining schedules for each team in the East's 3-6 slots:


The Celtics can take the tiebreaker from Atlanta if they win the remaining head-to-head matchup and maintain their better conference record (see above).  One other Hawks loss to Cleveland or Toronto and Boston is all set.  But that April 9 game is huge--if the C's can't snag that one they'll need Atlanta to stumble in three of its five other remaining contests.


The Celts have already clinched the tiebreaker vs. Miami, so the last game of the season may not even matter if the Heat lose twice before then.  Hopefully the Pistons knock them off once, and maybe the Blazers or Bulls as well.


Even though Boston owns the tiebreaker with Charlotte, the Hornets have the best conference record of the four clubs, so the C's will want to see at least three losses from them to avoid a multi-team tiebreaker scenario.  If Cleveland and Toronto take care of business at home, the Celtics can do the rest.


It's crucial for the C's to win either tonight in Portland, or tomorrow against the Warriors (hey, they did take them to double-OT last time).  If they don't, they'll likely have to run the table over their final six games.

Boston's path to the No. 3 seed is far from easy, but with Jae Crowder coming back tonight it's well within reason.

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