By Tyler Sullivan Follow on Twitter @TylerSully
It didn’t matter if Marcus Smart hit that ill-advised three pointer to give the Celtics the lead at the end of regulation or not. Boston was going to come out of the Target Center losers in some capacity.
Lets first start with what is going on in the real world where the Celtics lost on the scoreboard 124-122.
After the Heat (32-24) beat the Indiana Pacers in overtime on Monday, Boston (33-25) is now the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat have also played two fewer games.
Why this is significant is because of the team at the top of the conference – Cleveland.
The best case scenario for any team not named Toronto, who seems destined to be the 2-seed, would be to lock up the 3-seed. Doing so would ensure you do not see LeBron James and the Cavs until the East Finals.
The NBA, unlike the NFL, does not reseed in the later rounds of the playoffs. It is a bracket system. So, the winner of the 1-seed (which will likely be Cleveland) vs. 8-seed series will play the winner of the 4 vs. 5 seed series.
Obviously Celtics fans do not want to lose to Cleveland at all, but if you were to it would behoove you to want it in the East Finals because at that point you could at least go to (insert free agents name here) in the offseason and say “Hey, we made it to the final four without you. Imagine where we could go with you.”
Can’t do that if you lose in the East Semi’s.
It’s a big picture outlook, but that’s where C’s followers should keep their eye on.
Speaking of the future, let’s go in the alternate universe where Marcus Smart hits that jumper and gives the Celtics the 125-124 win over the T-Wolves.
First off, sweet! Marcus Smart hits a big time shot!
But after you sober up off the last minute heroics and check the latest NBA Mock Drafts you’ll find that the sure-as-shoot can’t miss Brooklyn Nets pick is becoming less and less valuable.
With the Minnesota loss, they would then be just one game back of the Nets (Celtics) in the tanking standings. I’ve highlighted many times how one game can make the difference in draft positioning in the NBA (look no further than 2014 where the 5 and 6 pick was determined by a coin flip) and with Brooklyn it’s no different. It’s actually worse.
The Sixers, Lakers, Suns and Timberwolves are not playing for anything in 2016. They are, in all intensive purposes, tanking to get the opportunity to draft LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
At the NBA Trade Deadline, the Suns got worse and have now supplanted the Nets as the 3rd worst team in the NBA. At that same deadline, Brooklyn stayed the course.
The Nets clearly don’t have an any incentive to tank, so on the nights when they are the ones making the comeback and their “Marcus Smart” pulls up for a game winning three, everyone from Nets brass on down to the nacho eating fan at the Barclays Center is rooting for that ball to go in.
And that should scare the heck out of you if you’re a Celtics fan.