The final day of In-Season Tournament group play has the potential to wrap up in chaotic fashion. The only simple fact is that the Boston Celtics need to beat Chicago Tuesday night, or else they cannot earn a spot in the knockout stage.
For them to move on, the scenarios become a bit more complicated. But we’ll try to lay it out for you in as straightforward of a manner as possible.
At the moment, the Orlando Magic are in the Group C driver’s seat with a 3-1 record and a plus-22 point differential. They’re also the only team among the five that has wrapped up group play after blowing out the Celtics by 17 points Friday afternoon.
Boston (2-1) and Brooklyn (2-1) are the only other Group C teams that can surpass Orlando for the No. 1 spot. Both Toronto (1-2) and Chicago have been eliminated from knockout stage contention.
Not only do the Celtics have to win tonight, but they have to blow out Chicago by at least 23 points in order to surpass Orlando’s point differential. But there’s a catch: the C’s also need Brooklyn to beat Toronto tonight in order to win the group. That may sound odd since the Nets are also vying for a quarterfinal berth; however, if Brooklyn loses, then that leaves the Celtics tied with Orlando in the win/loss column, and the Magic would move on because it owns the first tiebreaker over the C’s, which is head-to-head record.
Since Brooklyn beat Orlando and lost to the Celtics, it would create a three-way tie in the head-to-head category should the Nets and Celtics both win tonight. The next tiebreaker is point differential, and that’s why the C’s must improve from zero to at least a plus-23 to win the group.
The Nets currently have a plus-8 differential, so if they and the Celtics both win, Boston can only win the group by beating Chicago by at least 23 points and by earning a win that is at least nine points greater than Brooklyn’s. For example, if the Celtics beat Chicago 123-100 and the Nets beat Toronto 114-100, then Boston moves on. If that Nets score were to be 115-100, then they would move on.
If there is a tie in point differential at the top of the group, the next tiebreaker would be total points scored. Orlando currently has 446, Brooklyn has 340, and Boston has 325.
There’s also a way in which the Celtics could win by fewer than 22 points and still make it into the quarterfinals via the lone East wildcard spot. There are two scenarios that would enable the Celtics to clinch a spot this way, and they are even more complex than the ones we listed above.
The first scenario would be a Celtics win along with losses from 2-1 teams Brooklyn, Cleveland, Miami, and New York, which would make Boston the only East non-group-winner with a 3-1 record.
Scenario No. 2 would require a Celtics win and point differential advantage over any other 3-1 teams from the East that do not finish first in their group; Brooklyn Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee, and New York could all be vying for that spot.
Got all that? Good. Now let the chaos begin.
|Nov. 28 vs. CHI
|Nov. 28 vs. TOR
|Nov. 28 @ BKN
|Nov. 28 @ BOS