There is a chance the Boston Celtics don’t even make the Eastern Conference Playoffs this year.
With four games left in the 2020-21 NBA regular season, the Celtics find themselves in seventh place in the East with a 35-33 record. They are two games back of the Heat, whom they will host on Tuesday night for the crucial No. 6 seed. At this juncture, it feels like the Heat, the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks will get seeds No. 4 through No. 6 in some order.
With Boston probably heading to the play-in-tournament, the Celtics’ playoff lives are on the line.
Boston Celtics have very little margin for error to make the 2021 NBA Playoffs
The Celtics’ home date vs. the Heat on Tuesday night is, for all intents and purposes, a must-win if they want any hope of getting a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference. While they have two gimme games against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves in between, you better believe the Knicks will be playing hard in their regular-season finale on Sunday, May 16.
With very little chance of getting a precious top-six seed, the Celtics are likely to enter the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed. However, there are two lowered-seeded teams beneath them who will be very formidable play-in tournament matchups: The Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards. Heck, even the Indiana Pacers would have the potential to win two in a row and get in.
The last thing the Celtics want is to lose to LaMelo Ball and the Hornets in the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game and then have a win-or-go-home matchup vs. Russell Westbrook and the Wizards. That’s a lot of energy in back-to-back high-stakes play-in games. Even Domantas Sabonis has it in him to play great in high pressure situations. You can really feel the Celtics getting squeezed here, right?
Boston has playoff pedigree, but if they come out flat in the play-in tournament, it could be season over.