History shows Celtics that No. 1 seed no guarantee of playoff success


WALTHAM, Mass. – If you listen to the Celtics players, getting the No. 1 overall seed in the East was among the mile-makers Boston laid out in its journey towards the postseason.
As the top overall seed, they will have home-court advantage in every playoff series they’re involved with in the East.


But is the No. 1 seed all that important?
Could they have been just as satisfied with being the second-best team in the East, record-wise?
Of course, they would have been pleased with the No. 2 spot, which in itself would have been an improvement over last season when they finished in a four-way tie for the third-best record in the East only to slip all the way down to a No. 5 seed in the playoffs once the tiebreakers had been performed.
But being the top seed, whether the Celtics want to admit it or not, brings about an entirely different – and heightened – level of expectations.
While most agree that Cleveland is still the team to beat, that doesn’t mean the Celtics aren’t capable of having a successful postseason.
And being the top seed overall in the East only helps.
Looking back on the past decade, the top overall seed has made the most of their lofty position in terms of navigating through the playoffs.
Of the previous 10 teams with the top overall record in the East, half were able advance as far as the Conference finals. And on three different occasions, which does not include those five aforementioned trips to the conference finals, the top overall seed was able to advance to the NBA Finals (Cleveland last year; Miami in 2013 and Boston in 2008).

But there have been a couple top seeds that totally flamed out quickly in the playoffs in the past decade.


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