Derrick White drops in a layup against the Magic

In-Season Tournament Standings Ahead of Matchup with Orlando

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

It's as simple as this for the Boston Celtics: win this afternoon in Orlando, and you're into the quarterfinals of the NBA's inaugural In-Season Tournament as the winner of Group C.

The reason Boston can clinch its berth is because a victory over the Magic would leave three other Group C members - Orlando, Chicago and Toronto - all with at least two losses. The Celtics already own the head-to-head tie-breaker with the only other team that could hypothetically tie the Celtics in this scenario, Brooklyn, thanks to a 14-point win back on Nov. 10.

Now, things get a bit more questionable should the Celtics drop this game. Such a scenario would push Orlando to the top of Group C with a 3-1 record. However, the Magic will be done with their IST Group Play games at that point, while Boston and Brooklyn would have one remaining game to attempt to tie Orlando with a 3-1 record.

This is where point differential would come into play. If all three teams finish with a 3-1 record, point differential would decide the group's winner. So winning by a lot matters!

Now, if the Celtics lose today and only Boston and Orlando finish with a 3-1 record, Orlando would win the group based upon the head-to-head win. If the Celtics lose today and only Brooklyn and Orlando finish with a 3-1 record, Brooklyn would win the group based on its head-to-head win over the Magic.

If there is a 3-1 team that does not win the group, it would need to hope that its point differential is enough to clinch one of the two Wild Card spots in the East.

So, in the end, the Celtics know that if they win, they win Group C. If they lose, they're going to need either a three-way tie with Brooklyn and Orlando and have the best point differential of the three teams, or they'll need to win a Wild Card spot via point differential. That's the long and the short of it.

So buckle up for the most important IST game the Celtics or the Magic have ever played! And in the meantime, here are the current Group C standings:

Boston Celtics2-0Nov. 24 @ ORL
Nov. 28 vs. CHI
Brooklyn Nets2-1Nov. 28 vs TOR+8
Orlando Magic2-1Nov. 24 vs. BOS+5
Chicago Bulls0-2Nov. 24 @ TOR
Nov. 28 @ BOS
Toronto Raptors0-2Nov. 24 vs. CHI
Nov. 28 @ BKN