By virtue of Atlanta's loss to New York and Orlando's defeat in Denver on Sunday, the Boston Celtics are now locked in to play the Hawks in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
What remains to be decided is where the series will open. As Atlantic Division champions, the Celtics will be the No. 4 seed, but home-court advantage is determined by overall record, meaning the No. 5 Hawks can still host the series. In fact, Atlanta (38-26) owns a 1-game advantage over Boston (37-27) with two games to go. The Celtics are aided slightly by owning the tie-breaker in the event the two teams finish the season with matching records.
The remaining schedules:
Boston: Heat (4/24), Bucks (4/26)
Atlanta: Clippers (4/24), Mavericks (4/26)
By sending out a junior varsity lineup on Friday night in a head-to-head matchup with Atlanta, the Celtics have essentially stated they don't care who lands home-court advantage, preferring to err on the side or rest and health over opening the series in Boston. That said, it will be interesting to see how hard both sides push over the last two games with a chance to aid their cause both at the start of the series and in a potential Game 7.
Your turn: How do you feel about playing the Hawks? Do you think the Celtics should push hard for home-court advantage over the final two games? Sound off in the comments.