It's a long shot, but Celtics still can overtake Sixers for No. 3 seed


After a rough patch late March, it seemed inevitable: The Boston Celtics were locked into a 4-5 matchup with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Home court advantage was the only thing left to play for.

But hold on just one second.

The Philadelphia 76ers, who lost their third straight game Thursday night, suddenly are just two games ahead of the Celtics in the No. 3 spot with three games remaining for both teams.

Which means with Boston owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over Philly, the No. 3 seed still is in play.

As Celtics radio play-by-play man Sean Grande points out, it won't be easy. The C's need to win out and have the Sixers lose two of their last three games, or win two of three and have Philly lose three in a row.

The Sixers don't exactly face a gauntlet, either: They visit Chicago on Saturday, play the Heat in Miami on Tuesday and finish up Wednesday with the Bulls again at home.

Then again, few expected Philly to fall to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday or lose by 20 to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. With two of their final three games on the road, anything is possible.

But that assumes the C's take care of their own business. Friday's showdown with the Pacers in Indiana is a virtual must-win if Boston wants home court in the first round, while Sunday's home game against the No. 8 seed Orlando Magic won't be easy. Even the season finale against the lowly Washington Wizards could trip up this inconsistent club.

As it stands now, though the Celtics still are in the mix for a No. 3 seed that would net them the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets or Indiana Pacers in round one.

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