The finish line is in sight for the Boston Celtics as their challenging 2013-14 campaign comes to an end. However, the team’s spot in the lottery standings is still very fluid with three days of action in the regular season remaining.
Over the weekend there was a two-game swing in the lottery standings for Boston. The shorthanded Celtics beat the Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers, despite playing without Rajon Rondo (shin) for both games. Kris Humphries (knee), Jared Sullinger (ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (knee) all sat out Saturday's win in Cleveland as well. Meanwhile, all of the teams surrounding the Celtics in the standings combined to go 0-6 during the past three days.
With two games to play, the Celtics (25-55) are now tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the fifth-worst record in the league. The Utah Jazz are up one game in the lottery standings with a 24-56 mark, while the Orlando Magic are now all alone with the third-worst record at 23-57.
Tonight, the Celtics face off with the lowly Philadelphia 76ers as they hope to capture their third straight win. The team will still be without the services of Sullinger, Humphries and potentially Rondo according to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn.
No Sullinger or Humphries tonight for #celtics. Rondo still iffy— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) April 14, 2014
Bayless did not travel with the team and will also be out, meaning the Celtics could be down to just eight available players if Rondo can't suit up. Boston is 2-1 against Philadelphia this season.
While the Boston-Philly result will impact the Celtics' positioning in the standings, there are other games for Celtics fans to keep an eye on in the next few days, as they will impact Boston's lottery odds as well.
Orlando at Chicago (Monday night)
If Orlando loses or Boston wins tonight, the Celtics will be out of the running for the third-worst overall record. The Bulls are still fighting for the third seed in the East, making a Magic loss highly probable.
LA Lakers at Utah (Monday night)
Probably the biggest game remaining on the schedule. A Jazz win combined with a Celtics loss tonight would create a three-way tie in the standings between the Jazz, Lakers, and Celtics. Meanwhile, a Lakers win would ensure the Celtics remain in their current position with the fifth-worst record in the NBA. No matter the result, Boston can't lose.
Washington at Boston (Wednesday night)
This could be a winnable game for the Celtics, if the Wizards have the sixth seed wrapped up and opt to rest their starters.
Utah @ Minnesota, LA Lakers @ San Antonio (Wednesday night)
Two meaningless games against superior opponents on the road means the Lakers and Jazz will likely end their regular season with losses.
The Celtics’ final spot in the lottery won’t be settled until Wednesday night, but Monday’s games will likely have the biggest impact on team's eventual lottery position.