The Raptors seemed to have the one seed in the Eastern Conference locked up, but a recent run by the Celtics has cut the lead to three games. With eight games left in the season, the Celtics need to make a run to lock up the top seed. Here’s how they can do it and how it would benefit them:
How Can They Get It?
The Raptors have a challenging schedule for the remainder of the season. They play the Nuggets, Cavaliers, Pistons, Heat, and most importantly, the Celtics twice. Five of the seven teams the Raptors play are playoff teams, so they could go below .500 the rest of the season. The Celtics have an easier schedule, as they play the Jazz, Wizards, and Raptors twice. It would be very unlikely if the Celtics got the one seed without going 2-0 against Toronto due to the three-game deficit. The Celtics could go on a twelve game winning streak to end the season, as long as they don’t slip up against inferior opponents.
How Helpful Would It Be?
The Celtics are banged up and they need the worst possible team they can face to get by. As of now, the Heat are the eighth seed, which is actually a bad thing because the Heat give the Celtics trouble. The Bucks would be the better match-up for the Celtics, because Al Horford does a fairly good job guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo. Assuming they get there, the one seed in the second round would be the most beneficial for the Celtics. As of now, they would play LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have struggled this season, but LeBron James is basically impossible to beat in the playoffs. The one seed would allow the Celtics to match up with the 76ers or Pacers, which is easier. The one seed would help in the Conference Finals because a potential match-up with the Raptors would be at home.
Cover image courtesy of USA Today.