The Boston Celtics entered Friday's action tied with the Orlando Magic for the third-worst record in basketball. Two days -- and two victories -- later, they now sit alone with the fifth-worst mark and the Los Angeles Lakers looming within a ½ game. First a refresher from our friends at Tankathon where everyone stands:
This has caused all sorts of consternation for some denizens of Celtics Nation who worry that Boston's recent winning streak -- which might extend with Monday's visit to the Philadelphia 76ers -- could diminish the team's chances of landing an impact player in June's draft.
So it made us wonder: Just how much difference is there between Boston's potential landing spots? Here's a glimpse at the breakdown of percentages based on where the Celtics can finish (with two games to go, they are guaranteed to land somewhere between third worst and tied for sixth worst) with percentages for a top three spot, the No. 1 overall pick and the absolute worst spot it could finish if three teams below them vaulted into the top three lottery spots.
Keep in mind, that ties are broken by a coin flip with the winning team not only earning the extra ping-pong combinations, but slotted to receive the higher draft pick in the event that neither of the tied teams lands in the top three. Therefore, there are slight differences in the percentages below based on those ties (we gave the odds for the coin-flip winner below):
Hollinger's playoff odds currently project Boston to finish 26-56 and tied with the Lakers for the firth-worst record in basketball. Pending the coin flip, Boston would have approximately a 25.5 percent chance at a top three spot and a 7.6 percent chance at the top overall pick.
What does it all mean? It'll be hard for some to swallow the notion that Boston sacrificed a 20 percent chance at a top-three pick -- and halved its shots at the No. 1 overall selection -- because of its late-season surge.
But what's prudent to keep in mind is that Boston has been scorned by the ping-pong balls in the past. The team has positioned itself to navigate this transition process without relying on luck. Sure, vaulting to a top spot wouldn't hurt, but at the end of the day, you're leaning on chance a bit regardless -- and past history tells us that teams often make the jump into the top three.
Brad Stevens has said much of the year that he aims to control what he can control. The Celtics can't control how the ping-pong balls with play out, so Stevens has remained focused on trying to get as much out of his team as possible.
If disaster strikes and the Celtics get, say, the eighth overall pick this season, there will be plenty of second-guessing. Ultimately, it's probably not worth sweating right now. The Celtics seem content to let the chips fall where they may and they've got plenty of available assets if they desire to change their selection spot in June.