NBA Standings Watch

lexrageorge

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As someone posted in another thread, it would be nice if the teams ahead of the Celtics start losing some games. After that scenario was dismissed as unlikely, I decided to do a deeper dive into the teams surrounding the Celtics in the standings, ranked in order of current conference standings.

1. Miami (+5 game lead in loss column over Boston with 1 game in hand). Given that 17 of the Heat's remaining 26 games are at home, and Miami has the best home record in the East, they are the clear favorite for the #1 seed. Boston is 2-0 against the Heat with one game at TD Garden remaining, but the series matchup seems unlikely to decide this race.

2. Cleveland (+4 with 1 game in hand). As per Tankathon, strength of schedule is roughly equivalent to Boston's, with an advantage that they're done with the west coast. Season series with Boston concluded with the Celtics winning 2-1, so there is a chance they could fall, but would require an untimely slump or injuries or a continued hot stretch by Boston to cover the 4+1 games.

3. Chicago (+4 with 1 game in hand). This is where it gets interesting. They have really benefited from a soft schedule to this point in the season, but that is about to end.Have the 3rd most difficult schedule remaining, with road games in Miami, Atlanta, Philly, Utah, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Circle April 6th as a key standings game when the Celtics visit the Bulls, especially with the season series currently tied at one apiece.

4. Milwaukee (+3). An interesting one in that the Bucks have the 2nd most difficult schedule remaining, with visits to Chicago (2x), Golden State, Utah, Memphis, Philly, Brooklyn, and Cleveland remaining, as well as home games against Phoenix, Dallas, and Denver. With Boston currently holding a 2-1 edge in the season series, that April 7th game in Milwaukee is interesting as well. Still, the Bucks have Giannis, which tilts the court in their favor in just about every game.

5. Philadelphia (+3 with 2 games in hand). 4th hardest schedule remaining, including visits to Miami, Phoenix, and both LA teams, and the Nets at home. I expect Harden to transition relatively easily into the offense. In the playoffs, they are not better than a healthy Brooklyn and it's unclear if they would beat either the Bucks or Miami. But the 2 games in hand will make it a challenge for Boston to catch them. Celtics trail the season series 1-2 with one remaining game in Philly. Ain't happening.

6. Toronto (+2 with 3 games in hand). I'm not at all convinced the Raptors are a better team than this version of the Celtics, which is a contrary viewpoint here. By Tankathon, their schedule is easier than Boston's remaining slate. But they have a B2B against the Nets before between two long road trips, with the 2nd one taking them to Phoenix, Denver, and both LA stadiums, and 2 games against Philly. I would feel more confident in Boston's ability to catch the Raptors if Toronto did not have those 3 games in hand. Celtics lead the season series 2-1 and have a crucial game in Toronto on March 28th, and the season series results could be critical here.

7. Boston. Remaining schedule is middle of the pack (0.496 winning percentage). A difficult west coast trip to Golden State and Denver remain, along with visits to Philly and Brooklyn. The Toronto game starts what could be a crucial standings battle, but Boston does close the season with 3 road games. I'm not as confident they will miss the play-in, but I am confident they will almost assuredly be home for said play-in, and will be a tough playoff out for any team that does not rhyme with Jets.

8. Brooklyn (-1 with 2 games in hand). The only saving grace here is that the Nets probably do not care that much about the standings, and they will have only 2 of their 3 stars for 15 of their remaining 28 games. Schedule is only slightly harder than Boston's; visits to Milwaukee, Miami, and Philly along with a home-and-home against the Raptors are their toughest games. Boston and Brooklyn have split 2 games and have 2 remaining. Doesn't matter much, as I'm certain Kyrie will be allowed to play home games by the time April rolls around. Still, it would be nice if the Celtics weren't playing for the right to face the Heat in the opening round.

9. Charlotte (-3). They're done with the west coast, and their schedule is home biased (15 of 25) the rest of the way. Celtics, with a 2-1 series lead, do need to take care of business in Charlotte on March 9th, and, if so, the Hornets really have only an outside shot of getting their play-in game at home.

10. Atlanta (-4 with 2 games in hand). The 2 games in hand matters, as does the fact the Hawks have a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way. Celtics could use wins in at least one of those 2 home games against the Hawks, as Boston is so far 0-2 in the season series. So a win today Sunday would be most helpful; unfortunately, it's the 2nd half of a tough B2B.

11. Washington (-4 with 3 games in hand). By far the easiest schedule remaining (0.456 opponents winning percentage), but they do have a west coast trip remaining that includes the Warriors. That, their 3 games in hand, and their 2-1 edge in the season series against Boston with 1 remaining, are the only reasons they are on this list. With Beal likely done, they probably cannot catch either Atlanta or Charlotte.

12. New York Knicks (-6 with 1 game in hand). With a somewhat difficult schedule (0.515), their only chance for getting into the playin is if the Hornets or Hawks collapse, but they will not catch Boston. Season series with Boston completed at 2 wins apiece.

Tl;dr version is that Toronto remains Boston's best hope for avoiding the play-in, and Brooklyn's likely priority on preserving KD's and Kyrie's health.

EDIT: Thanks @lovegtm
 
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lovegtm

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Quick correction to an otherwise excellent post: Hawks game is on Sunday afternoon; it's not a B2B for the Cs.
 

DJnVa

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One bite at a time:

Denver beating the Raptors today and Philly/Cleveland play, so we're gaining a bit on someone. And hopefully the Heat pound the Nets.
 

Senator Donut

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If the season ended today and the play-in went as seeded, you’d have 1 Miami, 4 Milwaukee , 5 Philadelphia, and 8 Brooklyn in one half of the East bracket. Those are probably the four consensus best teams, whereas one of 2 Cleveland, 3 Chicago, 6 Toronto, and 7 Boston would be guaranteed to make the East final.

Seeding is going to be extremely important as the best East teams occupy extreme ends of the standings. A lot of the Celtics perceived playoffs success if going to depend on favorable matchups.
 

lovegtm

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If the season ended today and the play-in went as seeded, you’d have 1 Miami, 4 Milwaukee , 5 Philadelphia, and 8 Brooklyn in one half of the East bracket. Those are probably the four consensus best teams, whereas one of 2 Cleveland, 3 Chicago, 6 Toronto, and 7 Boston would be guaranteed to make the East final.

Seeding is going to be extremely important as the best East teams occupy extreme ends of the standings. A lot of the Celtics perceived playoffs success if going to depend on favorable matchups.
Honestly the Celtics might be the favorites to advance to the ECF from that hypothetical bracket, depending on Chicago's health. Of course a lot will change now and then, and that bracket probably won't happen, but I think Mil/PHI/BKN are the clear top of the East, and the rest is a lot of regular season try-hard fool's gold.
 

ragnarok725

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I think the risk of implosion for Brooklyn is going a little understated. You have three of the most fragile, combustible headcases in the league all in one locker room. A locker room that championship-starved James Harden just forced his way out of because of how toxic it was.

Everyone is saying nice things now because the situation is new. They've got some more good role players coming in. Guys are gonna get back from injury. We're all going to remember how good Simmons is. Maybe they really will gel and become the juggernaut their talent says they should be. But any adversity could send this crew into a tailspin. They have multiple players who have torpedoed winning teams in playoff runs before. They are stars with very thin skins who could just take their ball and go home (or not show up) if they start feeling under-appreciated. If fingers start getting pointed, I'm not sure how this squad makes it stop.

None of that is scientific, and it's the kind of analysis I usually hate around sports teams. But this group seems uniquely suited for collapse given their collective histories.
 

lexrageorge

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If the season ended today and the play-in went as seeded, you’d have 1 Miami, 4 Milwaukee , 5 Philadelphia, and 8 Brooklyn in one half of the East bracket. Those are probably the four consensus best teams, whereas one of 2 Cleveland, 3 Chicago, 6 Toronto, and 7 Boston would be guaranteed to make the East final.

Seeding is going to be extremely important as the best East teams occupy extreme ends of the standings. A lot of the Celtics perceived playoffs success if going to depend on favorable matchups.
There's some interesting scenarios at play. If BKN decides to play for the 8th seed, which they may depending upon Durant's health, Miami may do everything in its power to stay out of the #1 seed.
 

Senator Donut

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There's some interesting scenarios at play. If BKN decides to play for the 8th seed, which they may depending upon Durant's health, Miami may do everything in its power to stay out of the #1 seed.
You can’t really play seeding games with the 1/8 and 2/7 matchups because of the play-in uncertainty. However, I would expect Brooklyn to prefer an 8th seed to 7th, as Irving may not be available for a home 7/8 win-and-in matchup.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I think the risk of implosion for Brooklyn is going a little understated. You have three of the most fragile, combustible headcases in the league all in one locker room. A locker room that championship-starved James Harden just forced his way out of because of how toxic it was.

Everyone is saying nice things now because the situation is new. They've got some more good role players coming in. Guys are gonna get back from injury. We're all going to remember how good Simmons is. Maybe they really will gel and become the juggernaut their talent says they should be. But any adversity could send this crew into a tailspin. They have multiple players who have torpedoed winning teams in playoff runs before. They are stars with very thin skins who could just take their ball and go home (or not show up) if they start feeling under-appreciated. If fingers start getting pointed, I'm not sure how this squad makes it stop.

None of that is scientific, and it's the kind of analysis I usually hate around sports teams. But this group seems uniquely suited for collapse given their collective histories.
Adjacent your point you have 3 mercurial stars who have had the basketball in their hands for their entire life and one ball. The Big 3 let Harden run the offense and give up shots to KD and KI but not sure that dynamic will work with Simmons.

If I am counting correctly (never a sure thing), BRK has 10 road games after the break. One of them includes TOR and a send includes MSG. A third is also Feb 26 against MIL. If KD and Simmons are ready to play by then, they will have 8 games to play against each other assuming vaccination mandates stay. If not, their first game together would be March 6 at BOS.

BTW, funny story about Harden's reaction to Irving burning sage ibn CLE on Jan. 17: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/ranking-eastern-conference-contenders-after-the-trade-deadline-bucks-still-on-top-followed-by-sixers-nets/
 

radsoxfan

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I think the risk of implosion for Brooklyn is going a little understated. You have three of the most fragile, combustible headcases in the league all in one locker room. A locker room that championship-starved James Harden just forced his way out of because of how toxic it was.
To pile on the Brooklyn thing, I don't get how they are the still favorites at the moment in the futures market.

If you took this exact team at the beginning of the year and started the season with no injuries, no vaccine issues, full training camp.... OK sure.

But Simmons hasn't played in forever, Kyrie is playing road games only right now, KD is injured, and they are the 8th seed through 55 games.

There is obviously a path for them to be really good and even win the title, but A LOT has to go right for them.
 

HomeRunBaker

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To pile on the Brooklyn thing, I don't get how they are the still favorites at the moment in the futures market.

If you took this exact team at the beginning of the year and started the season with no injuries, no vaccine issues, full training camp.... OK sure.

But Simmons hasn't played in forever, Kyrie is playing road games only right now, KD is injured, and they are the 8th seed through 55 games.

There is obviously a path for them to be really good and even win the title, but A LOT has to go right for them.
Yeah on paper they would appear lethal but that doesn’t always play out on the floor and as we’ve all been repeating they don’t exactly ooze mental fortitude on top of lack of familiarity on both ends. It does provide for some great value. I forget the exact number (I recall it made me say “What? Wow!”) but a friend of mine took a Heat to win EC at a stupid crazy price two weeks ago.
 

radsoxfan

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Yeah on paper they would appear lethal but that doesn’t always play out on the floor and as we’ve all been repeating they don’t exactly ooze mental fortitude on top of lack of familiarity on both ends. It does provide for some great value. I forget the exact number (I recall it made me say “What? Wow!”) but a friend of mine took a Heat to win EC at a stupid crazy price two weeks ago.

Seems to me their window really starts next season.

Post COVID restrictions, hope Simmons and a Kyrie have their heads on semi-straight, a couple more years of peak or near peak KD.

I suppose in 2 months a lot can change and they could look Iike world beaters, but it’s asking a lot to me. Guess we’ll see.
 

lexrageorge

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Seems to me their window really starts next season.

Post COVID restrictions, hope Simmons and a Kyrie have their heads on semi-straight, a couple more years of peak or near peak KD.

I suppose in 2 months a lot can change and they could look Iike world beaters, but it’s asking a lot to me. Guess we’ll see.
And there’s the countdown to the cliff for the oft-injured Kyrie, who has had plenty of knee issues in the past.
 

Devizier

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The 538 rankings are less telling than the fact that they have 7 teams with a legitimate title shot (sounds right) but that the Warriors are not one of them (what?!?!?!)
 

Cellar-Door

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The 538 rankings are less telling than the fact that they have 7 teams with a legitimate title shot (sounds right) but that the Warriors are not one of them (what?!?!?!)
They're actually second in one of the two 538 projection methods (ELO).

The RAPTOR projections aren't W/L based, but player performance based, and so right now I would guess things holding the Warriors back are: Looney is showing as a major minutes player and RAPTOR doesn't think he is good, Klay is showing as not a major minutes player, Guys RAPTOR likes (Iguodala) aren't playing as much as guys it hates (Lee, Anderson, Bjelica, Kuminga), also Raptor isn't particularly a fan of Wiggins or Poole (positive players but not by much).
 

lovegtm

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5% sounds about right. The Celtics are in the group now of "good, but need some opponent injury luck in the playoffs."

Injuries happen though. If Embiid is fully healthy the Hawks probably don't make the ECF, and if Trae doesn't get hurt, they probably make the Finals. Last year was pretty extreme for EC injuries, but stuff will happen, and the Cs need to be ready.
 

Cellar-Door

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The Celtics are only about 5% odds to make the finals in Vegas. 538 has them as 27%?!

how has 538 done historically?
Vegas odds are always going to be heavily weighted towards favorites and big names (BKN is still the favorite to win the East for example).

I think the RAPTOR projections aren't very good personally (for teams that is), the ELO is generally better. That also loves BOS, but a bit less (20% to make the finals).

Overall though, it shouldn't be surprising that a purely data-driven analysis puts the Celtics near the top, it is going to rely heavily on things like point differential, strength of schedule etc.
The Celtics have the best point differential in the East, their SOS looks strong on paper (it doesn't consider things like getting the Nets and Heat when all their stars are out)... simple rating has the Celtics top in the East.... basically most data points say that the Celtics have been arguably the best team in the East, and their record is poor luck.
 

88 MVP

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Looking at the standings, the Celtics point differential jumped from 4.8 at the start of the day to 5.5 :oops:

Prettayyy, prettayyy good
 

Cellar-Door

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Cellar-Door

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MIL looks like they will hold on.

So going into the ASB the Celtics cannot finish higher than 6th, where they are.

BUT... a win tomorrow means they will either be in a virtual tie with PHI for 5 (.003 behind) and 1.5 back on CLE.. 2 back on MIL and between 2.5 and 3.5 back on CHI and MIA
OR... 1 back of PHI AND MIL, same on the rest.

Either way if the Celtics can win tomorrow they'll pick up ground on the loser of PHI/MIL and the Cavs who don't play again.
 

lexrageorge

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Tonight's win for Boston against Philly could come in quite helpful in a tiebreaker scenario. Celtics squared the season series at 2 apiece. Next tiebreaker is division record, and Celtics (7-6) hold a slight edge (4-7). Going to conference record, both teams have 14 losses, but Philly has played 5 fewer conference games.

I personally don't think it matters that much if the Celtics finish 5th or 6th; it would just be nice to skip the play-in.
 

Jakarta

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According to Tankathon, Celtics now with the 21st hardest remaining strength of schedule. Of the teams ahead of them in the East, only Cleveland has an easier remaining schedule. The Bucks have the hardest remaining schedule in the NBA, Lakers are second, and bulls are third. 76ers are 11th, Nets are 14th, and Heat are 15th. So lots of opportunity to continue to gain ground in the standings.
 

lovegtm

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Jayson Tatum's defense is elite again, and his somewhat improved shooting and much improved driving mean the Celtics are back to having a borderline top-10 guy.

It's not that crazy to think that a team that's really deep 1-7, has by far the best defense in the NBA (don't @ me, Dubs fans) and has a top 10-15 guy is the best team in the East.

I don't personally think that, but I'm starting to get really high on our chances against everyone except healthy Brooklyn. The Bucks and Heat and Bulls and Cavs are going to have a really hard time scoring on this defense.
 

Koufax

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Other surprises:
Derrick White #13
Marcus Smart #23
Kevin Durant #31
Jaylen Brown #38.

Drunk indeed.
 

bosockboy

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538’s algorithm might factor in the 4-5 games we absolutely had no business losing and blew huge leads. Outside of those we sit at the top of the East and are charging at full speed.
 

lovegtm

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Other surprises:
Derrick White #13
Marcus Smart #23
Kevin Durant #31
Jaylen Brown #38.

Drunk indeed.
Smart has been really, really good this year, particularly now that he's learned how to attack the basket. He's turning a lot of formerly bricked 3 pointers into ~50% shots near the rim, getting fouled, and racking up assists. That's before you get to his defense. I don't think that this version of Smart being a top-25 player is that crazy tbh.
 

Devizier

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I was pretty happy with Smart as the modern Nate McMillan but he’s been something more than that this season.
 

Cellar-Door

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538’s algorithm might factor in the 4-5 games we absolutely had no business losing and blew huge leads. Outside of those we sit at the top of the East and are charging at full speed.
It gives no weight to wins or losses. It just is 100% based on player RAPTOR... which is great for our starters. And since we have a tight rotation and relatively good health we benefit from that as well.
 

lexrageorge

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Quick update, rankings in loss column:

1.) Miami (+5, no change since last week)
2.) Chicago (+5, +1)
3.) Philly (+3, unch)
4.) Cleveland (+3, -1)
5.) Milwaukee (+2, -1)
6.) Toronto (+1, -1)
7.) Boston*
8.) Brooklyn (-2, -1)
9.) Atlanta* (-4, unch)
10.) Charlotte (-5, -2)
11.) Washington (-5, -1)

*Boston is technically 6th in the standings, but 7th in losses. Atlanta is technically 10th, but 9th in the loss column.

Celtics gained ground against the opponents directly ahead of them in the standings. In that epic matchup between Embiid and Giannis, Philly helped themselves by beating the Bucks 24 hours after the Celtics lost to Detroit, a loss that was somewhat costly in the current standings. Of the teams ahead of Boston, only the Bucks (17) have more conference losses than Boston's 15.

Catching Philly will be tough, but they got a good shot of maintaining 6th place, and could even get to a 5 seed. Anything above that would be gravy at this point, but there are still between 22 and 25 games remaining.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Atlanta, Nets, and Cavs lose, Bulls win. 1 game out of 5th, 1.5 out of 3rd. Philly at TWolves and Toronto at Charlotte tomorrow are the games to watch.
Posted this in the transaction thread but should have posted it here: CHA has lost 9 out of last 10 and 11 of 14. Was unthinkable two weeks ago that they'd be fighting to be in play-in game. They did pivk up Montrez so it will be interesting to see if they can turn it around.
 

Jimbodandy

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Posted this in the transaction thread but should have posted it here: CHA has lost 9 out of last 10 and 11 of 14. Was unthinkable two weeks ago that they'd be fighting to be in play-in game. They did pivk up Montrez so it will be interesting to see if they can turn it around.
He has been around a neutral defender pretty much his whole career. That might actually be a benefit to that defense, which is catastrophically bad. And he might add a little edge/toughness.
 

chilidawg

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Only a half game behind the Bucks and a game back of Cleveland. Cavs just lost Rondo and Levert for a couple weeks, man they just can't keep their guards healthy. Bucks have a Charlotte, Miami and at Chicago week coming up. 4th slot by the end of the week for us?

Random aside: C's are the only Eastern Conference team with a winning record against over .500 teams.
 

nighthob

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Only a half game behind the Bucks and a game back of Cleveland. Cavs just lost Rondo and Levert for a couple weeks, man they just can't keep their guards healthy.
Relying on Caris LeVert’s health is sort of like relying on a ‘76 Nova to take your family on a cross-country journey. Healthy LeVert is right up there with Bigfoot in terms of myths that haunt the American consciousness.
 

128

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Relying on Caris LeVert’s health is sort of like relying on a ‘76 Nova to take your family on a cross-country journey. Healthy LeVert is right up there with Bigfoot in terms of myths that haunt the American consciousness.
Similarly, Gordon Hayward out again for Charlotte.
 

nighthob

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The difference is that the populace at large know that Hayward is a walking injury ward whereas when Houston shipped LeVert out half this board took up arms to defend the proposition that LeVert was a borderline all star that wasn’t an injury waiting to happen.
 

128

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The difference is that the populace at large know that Hayward is a walking injury ward whereas when Houston shipped LeVert out half this board took up arms to defend the proposition that LeVert was a borderline all star that wasn’t an injury waiting to happen.
People who follow the NBA are unaware of LeVert's injury/health history?