Eastern Conference Playoff Seeding: What We Expect, What We Want

Imbricus

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I thought it might be worth creating a (short-lived) thread on Eastern Conference playoff seeding. Here are the standings as of this morning (below, using the native table function, fingers crossed). Column four is "rising" or "falling" (determined by whether, in its last 10 games, the team has varied from its overall winning percentage by more than .100, either positively (rising) or negatively (falling). I thought "rising" and falling" would give a sense of which teams stand the best chance of moving higher or lower over the last eight or so games.

I think the #2 seed might be a perfect place for Boston if Philadelphia can hold on to the #3 seed; I would rather avoid seeing Cleveland or Milwaukee for a couple of rounds (and New York caused us problems recently, though they're falling). Still, right now, #2 would play Miami, and that's one of the teams I'd rather avoid in the first round; I think they could be tough, because they're so well-coached, and Butler can find another gear in high-stakes games, and they always seem to play us close (I would expect Spoelstra to throw zones and a variety of looks at us). However, Brooklyn could fall to #7, though their remaining schedule looks favorable.

TEAM NAME RECORD GAMES BEHIND RISING/FALLING
Milwaukee 53-21 ---- ----
Boston 51-23 2 ----
Philadelphia 49-25 4 ----
Cleveland 47-28 6.5 rising
New York 42-33 11.5 falling
Brooklyn 40-34 13 falling
Miami 40-35 13.5 ----
Atlanta 37-37 16 ----
Toronto 36-38 17 ----
Chicago 35-38 17.5 rising
 

Strike4

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Part of me wonders if it's better to get a physical team like Miami early, with the idea that there's been some rest at the end of the regular season, and so the Celtics can better manage them physically. I still think the #1 reason they lost to GSW last year was the brutal back to back series against Miami and Milwaukee.
 

lovegtm

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Part of me wonders if it's better to get a physical team like Miami early, with the idea that there's been some rest at the end of the regular season, and so the Celtics can better manage them physically. I still think the #1 reason they lost to GSW last year was the brutal back to back series against Miami and Milwaukee.
I was thinking the same.

More generally, Miami feels like a much worse version of Brooklyn last year: scary because of the past, lots of PTSD, some star talent, and will play close games. Ultimately, however, they will go down more easily than expected, particularly if the Cs are fresh.

I wouldn't expect them to cause Mil or Phi tons of trouble either.

I want the #1 seed, and it's possible if Milwaukee slips at all. But the #2 is fine, since I'm ok playing Philly in round 2.

#3 is pretty unlikely now, and getting it would mean the Cs were playing quite poorly going into the playoffs.

In general: fuck seeding, I don't think it matters that much this year. If the Cs are playing well, the road to the Finals goes through them and Milwaukee.
 

lexrageorge

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Do we think any weirdness might come out of the 7-10 play-ins such that we won’t be playing the 7 seed?
Definitely. Miami does not seem like a lock to earn the 7 seed; any of those teams could beat the others in a single game playoff.
 

benhogan

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Marcus & TL health > Seeding or whomever the Celtics play early
Those two obviously have a huge impact on the C's defense and are the #1 reason it hasn't been as good this season.

Overall these Celtics are better than last year's version:
1. Brogdon addition
2. White comfort level
3. Horford's 3pt shooting
4. JAYs older/wiser

Fewer TOs/better 3pt shooting will help in the playoffs

Bucks are improved: Crowder/Jingles additions. The improved play of Jevon Carter. Middleton has been OKish
Sixers are better: Skinnier Harden. Improved Maxey. Melton, Tucker, & McDaniel additions
Cavs are better: Donovan Mitchell addition. Rubio is playing
Knicks are better: Brunson addition
Heat are worse than last year's version (53-29, #1 seed), especially offensively
Nets are worse and were irrelevant in the playoffs last year. I could see them getting eliminated in the play-in games by the Hawks/Raptors

Wouldn't mind the C's drawing the Hawks in Round 1. All of Boston's PGs can bully Trae and easily get into the paint, unlocking Boston's offense.
 

Euclis20

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I don't much believe in fate, but it's hard to shake the feeling that (like Brooklyn last year) we're destined to draw Miami in round 1. The bucks had similar concerns facing Miami in round 1 a couple years ago (after losing 4-1 to them in the bubble the year before), and they swept Miami by an average of 20 points per game on their way to the title. Here's hoping.
 

NoXInNixon

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I'm not nearly as afraid of Cleveland in round 2 as most people seem to be. A few early season overtime wins doesn't mean they're a bad match up. I have faith that our defense can slow down Mitchell enough to keep him from taking over. I'm much more worried that Embiid goes beast mode, and nothing can stop him if that happens and the Celtics will have to be perfect to win the series if that happens.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I'm not nearly as afraid of Cleveland in round 2 as most people seem to be. A few early season overtime wins doesn't mean they're a bad match up. I have faith that our defense can slow down Mitchell enough to keep him from taking over. I'm much more worried that Embiid goes beast mode, and nothing can stop him if that happens and the Celtics will have to be perfect to win the series if that happens.
Cleveland is as bad a matchup as there is for us, and that includes the Bucks, as we’d likely play 2BIGZ which limits the minutes of some of our better players like Brogdon and White. They also have two explosive guards who are capable of taking over games. The only positive of this matchup is their lack of playoff experience together. I want no part of them early.
 

lovegtm

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Cleveland is as bad a matchup as there is for us, and that includes the Bucks, as we’d likely play 2BIGZ which limits the minutes of some of our better players like Brogdon and White. They also have two explosive guards who are capable of taking over games. The only positive of this matchup is their lack of playoff experience together. I want no part of them early.
100%. Guards who can go off have been the Celtics' Achilles heel.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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100%. Guards who can go off have been the Celtics' Achilles heel.
In addition to allowing a bunch of scorers to go off this season (mostly without TL though), Cs seem to struggle against teams with size since a lot of their offense is generated by going to the rim.

However, it looks like CLE has an outside shot at the 3 seed. They are 2 games back of PHI + PHI has tiebreaker but CLE plays @ATL, NYK, IND, @ORL, @ORL, and CHA while PHI plays @DEN, DAL, TOR, @MIL, BOS, MIA, @ATL, and @BRK.

If CLE wins out, PHI could potentially lose @DEN, @MIL, BOS, and one other, which gives CLE the 3 seed. Not likely but not inconceivable either if CLE really wants to get the 3 seed.
 

Joe D Reid

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Simmons has said a couple of times now that division winners can't be in the play-in, so Miami will be at worst a 6 seed. I know that they got rid of guaranteed seeds for division winners a few years ago, but have no idea whether that changed with the advent of the play-in. What say you, Cellar?
 

joe dokes

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Simmons has said a couple of times now that division winners can't be in the play-in, so Miami will be at worst a 6 seed. I know that they got rid of guaranteed seeds for division winners a few years ago, but have no idea whether that changed with the advent of the play-in. What say you, Cellar?
Nothing I've seen explaining the play-in talks in terms of division winners at all. Only conference standings.

The Play-In Tournament will begin Tuesday, April 11 and conclude Friday, April 14. The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The teams with the ninth-highest and tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.
FAQ: NBA Play-In Tournament | NBA.com

And the NBA Division Standings listed on ESPN have Miami 7th in conference/playoff seeding.
2022-23 NBA Standings | ESPN
 
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Auger34

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Ideal world, Celtics play the Hawks or the Bulls in Round 1. I think both of them are close to being pushovers.
I think I would prefer to play the Nets over the Heat and Raptors. I don’t think any of these teams can beat the Celtics but you know the Heat and Raptors will be physical and draw out the series a bit
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Simmons has said a couple of times now that division winners can't be in the play-in, so Miami will be at worst a 6 seed. I know that they got rid of guaranteed seeds for division winners a few years ago, but have no idea whether that changed with the advent of the play-in. What say you, Cellar?
According to NBA.com - http://global.nba.com/standings/ (click on "PLAYOFF TIE BREAK PROCEDURES") - division winner is a tie breaker (#2 for two-way tie; #1 for multi-way tie) not an outright bar from being in the play-in tournament.

So I'm pretty sure Simmons is wrong. Quelle surprise!
 

DeadlySplitter

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After tonight, it sure is looking like one MIami play-in home win from Spolestra vs. CJM in round 1.
 

Van Everyman

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Can someone tell me the one matchup that would be “easy” and “preferred”? I’ve lost track at this point.
 

Euclis20

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NYK you're assuming loses to Cleveland?
The Knicks are just 5-6 since their double OT win over Boston, and there's no guarantee that Randle is ready to play when the playoffs start (his ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated in 2 weeks, which is 2 days before the start of the playoffs). They're four games behind the Cavs right now, it would be pretty shocking if they beat Cleveland in round 1.
 

jon abbey

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The Knicks are just 5-6 since their double OT win over Boston, and there's no guarantee that Randle is ready to play when the playoffs start (his ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated in 2 weeks, which is 2 days before the start of the playoffs). They're four games behind the Cavs right now, it would be pretty shocking if they beat Cleveland in round 1.
Brunson isn’t a hundred percent either, they are dangerous if healthy but I think the rest of the season will be ugly for them, including a playoff beatdown from CLE or PHI.
 

jon abbey

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Wow, sorry Jalen!! Career high 48 for Brunson tonight against CLE (Randle and Jarrett Allen out), 9 assists, just 2 turnovers. NY with a big team effort in Randle's absence, Hartenstein seems to get better every game.

In my defense for the above post, in the previous Knicks game, tied after 3 in a big swing game against MIA, Brunson sat for the whole 4th and it was the right move, he had not looked right all night and NY won the 4th 25-16 without him., But he was completely back and incredible tonight, matching Donovan Mitchell (42) and more, the first time he has looked healthy since first getting hurt about four weeks ago.

NY has a lot of wins against good teams this year, 3-1 against CLE (the most recent three), 3-1 against BOS (also the most recent three), 2-0 against DEN (the one in DEN was without Jokic), to name three, and they have been a tough road team all year (23-16, MIL league best currently at 25-14). Rest up, Julius!
 

DGreenwood

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I can't figure out if I'm rooting for the Sixers to win today, maintaining a hope for the #1 seed, or if it's better for the Bucks to win and pretty much lock the #2 seed up for the Celtics.
 

Euclis20

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I can't figure out if I'm rooting for the Sixers to win today, maintaining a hope for the #1 seed, or if it's better for the Bucks to win and pretty much lock the #2 seed up for the Celtics.
Sixers win for me, please. Keeps us alive for the 1 seed, and the downside of a 3 seed (on the road against Philly in round 2) isn't terrible when you consider it means we got Brooklyn in the first round instead of (potentially) Miami.

Put simply, the upside of the 1 seed is more attractive than the downside of the 3 seed.
 

Jakarta

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Also because of tiebreakers, the magic number to clinch the 2 is just 2, while the Bucks magic number to clinch the 1 is still 4. I’m not worried about losing the 2 seed, and the 1 seed is still very much in play, especially with a loss by the Bucks today.
 

lovegtm

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Looks like it's the #2 seed. Miami is at #7 because they keep losing games--they're just not that good. There's also no guarantee at all that they win their first play-in game.

This is like worrying about the Nets in round 1 all over again, but with a MUCH worse team.
 

128

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C's play at Philly on Tuesday and then host Toronto the next night. I'll be interested to see what load-management strategy they choose to follow. Throw everything at the Sixers and then rest Rob and Al against the Raptors? Rest one against Philly and then the other against Toronto? Do Brogdon and Smart play in both games?

Should the C's lose in Philly, they need to make sure they hold on to the No. 2 seed.
 

TripleOT

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Does anyone know the Finals tiebreaker? Denver is two games behind Boston with four games to go, and the teams split the regular season series.
 

lovegtm

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C's play at Philly on Tuesday and then host Toronto the next night. I'll be interested to see what load-management strategy they choose to follow. Throw everything at the Sixers and then rest Rob and Al against the Raptors? Rest one against Philly and then the other against Toronto? Do Brogdon and Smart play in both games?

Should the C's lose in Philly, they need to make sure they hold on to the No. 2 seed.
The magic number is one, so I bet they throw Rob and Al out there against the Sixers to get one last playoff environment simulation, and to clinch the #2 right then. After that, win or lose, they can rest them both, and maybe rest everyone against Toronto.

Then, if they lost to Philly, they get two cracks with the healthy team against Toronto and Atlanta, to get one win.
 

Jakarta

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Any chance they sit everyone against Philly? Make the Sixers wonder if they can beat the Cs at full strength since they haven’t this year. Of course a Celtics win hammers that point home even more…
 

Tudor Fever

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Does anyone know the Finals tiebreaker? Denver is two games behind Boston with four games to go, and the teams split the regular season series.
Someone please correct me if this is wrong, but it looks like the relevant factor is conference record, which unfortunately favors the Nuggets.
 

tims4wins

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Any chance they sit everyone against Philly? Make the Sixers wonder if they can beat the Cs at full strength since they haven’t this year. Of course a Celtics win hammers that point home even more…
Had a similar thought. Will be interesting to see how they play it.
 

lovegtm

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Any chance they sit everyone against Philly? Make the Sixers wonder if they can beat the Cs at full strength since they haven’t this year. Of course a Celtics win hammers that point home even more…
Didn't think of that, and they did sit everyone against Milwaukee once already.

That way you get three shots at beating Tor x2 and Atl on full rest. Honestly, sounds smart. We already know the Celtics can gameplan for Embiid; not a ton left to prove there.
 

Euclis20

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Looks like it's the #2 seed. Miami is at #7 because they keep losing games--they're just not that good. There's also no guarantee at all that they win their first play-in game.

This is like worrying about the Nets in round 1 all over again, but with a MUCH worse team.
Kyrie and Durant only played 17 regular season games together last year (the Nets were 11-6), and there was the possibility of Ben Simmons returning. There was some reason (not completely unfounded) to believe that the Nets were indeed better than their record. Miami has been relatively healthy (other than Lowry), and the addition of Love hasn't been great (he's shooting .383 from the field and .287 from 3, Miami is 8-10 when he plays), there's no evidence inside of this particular season that they are anything more than what they've shown over the last 6 months. I still would rather face Atlanta or Toronto in round 1.
 

DGreenwood

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The main issue with sitting everyone against Philly is that they've already been off since Friday. If having everyone healthy, well rested, but conditioned for the playoffs is the goal, the first Toronto game is the one to leave to the B squad.

The magic number is one. They're the two seed unless they lose out and Philly wins out. Ignore which teams they are playing on which days and look at this next week as a workout schedule. Optimize it for the playoffs.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Any chance they sit everyone against Philly? Make the Sixers wonder if they can beat the Cs at full strength since they haven’t this year. Of course a Celtics win hammers that point home even more…
Can’t imagine we sit anyone for this game much less everyone. Probably see a lot of Kornet/Muscala/Grant battling Poeltl in the first Toronto game if I had to guess.
 

lexrageorge

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Can’t imagine we sit anyone for this game much less everyone. Probably see a lot of Kornet/Muscala/Grant battling Poeltl in the first Toronto game if I had to guess.
Yes, beating Philly secures the #2 seed and helps keep important distance with the Nuggets, who have an easy 4 games remaining on their schedule.
 

GB5

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As bad as Miami has been playing, and they have been really bad, there is no question in my mind that their coaching and style of play will lead to some sleepless nights for C’s fans as the series goes at least 6 grinding games.
 

HomeRunBaker

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As bad as Miami has been playing, and they have been really bad, there is no question in my mind that their coaching and style of play will lead to some sleepless nights for C’s fans as the series goes at least 6 grinding games.
So agree with this. The Heat, with Butler, Bam and Spo, are built for the postseason. They aren’t going to go down easy to anyone.
 
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BigSoxFan

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So agree with this. The Heat, with Butler, Bam and Spo, are built for the postseason. They aren’t going to go down east to anyone.
I’m rooting for Atlanta to fall from 8 spot to Toronto/Chicago for this very reason.
 

Strike4

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The main issue with sitting everyone against Philly is that they've already been off since Friday. If having everyone healthy, well rested, but conditioned for the playoffs is the goal, the first Toronto game is the one to leave to the B squad.

The magic number is one. They're the two seed unless they lose out and Philly wins out. Ignore which teams they are playing on which days and look at this next week as a workout schedule. Optimize it for the playoffs.
I do think the Celtics should avoid a mini-collapse to the #3 seed though, if only to go into the postseason with positive vibes all around.
 

the moops

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As a basketball fan, here is what I want to see in the 1st round (would love BOS in the 1 seed but that seems very unlikely)

MIL - TOR
BOS - MIA
PHI - BRK
CLE - NYK

DEN - MIN
MEM - LAC
SAC - LAL
PHO - GSW
 

Euclis20

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As a basketball fan, here is what I want to see in the 1st round (would love BOS in the 1 seed but that seems very unlikely)

MIL - TOR
BOS - MIA
PHI - BRK
CLE - NYK

DEN - MIN
MEM - LAC
SAC - LAL
PHO - GSW
That's a pretty epic first round in the west, other than Den/Min (the Pelicans with a healthy Zion would be very interesting).