Bucks and Celtics Still Fighting for #1 Seed in Eastern Conference

In the final week of the NBA regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks attempt to fend off Boston Celtics and secure the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The top seed will gain control of home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference finals.

Milwaukee Bucks Boston Celtics Playoffs Eastern Conference NBA #1 Seed
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo defends forward Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics at Fiserv Arena in Milwaukee. (Image: Getty)

The Eastern Conference playoff standings is more organized compared to the murky Western Conference.

Five teams from the Eastern Conference punched their ticket to the postseason including the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavs, and New York Knicks.

The Eastern Play-In Tournament teams are mostly set, with two teams still in contention for sixth place. The Brooklyn Nets are currently in sixth place, and hold a two-game lead over the Miami Heat in seventh place.

Sixth place is vital in the final standings because that team would avoid the Play-In Tournament. The seventh place and eighth place teams square off in the Play-In Tournament to determine the #7 seed. The loser of that game will meet the winner of the ninth place vs. tenth place game to determine the #8 seed.

The Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, and Chicago Bulls are battling in the final week of the season to determine the hierarchy within the Play-In Tournament.

Bucks and Celtics Still Jockeying for #1 Seed

The Bucks (56-22) are currently in first place with the best record in the NBA, but hold only a two-game lead over the Celtics (54-24) in second place. Both teams have four remaining games.

The Celtics need help if they expect to wrestle away the #1 seed from the Bucks. They play the 76ers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia for their final road game of the season. The Celtics finish the season with three home games at TD Garden, including two against the Toronto Raptors and the season finale against the Atlanta Hawks next Sunday.

The Bucks have a slightly easier schedule with two road games against the Washington Wizards and Raptors, plus two home games against the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies.

According to a projection by FiveThirtyEight, the Celtics have a 39% chance to return to the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons. They also have a 26% chance to win the championship as the highest prediction in their NBA projections. The Bucks have a 26% chance to advance to the NBA Finals, with a 15% chance to win a second championship in the last three seasons.

The Bucks are the consensus favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +310 odds according to the most recent update by DraftKings. The Celtics are +320 odds to win the title as second-highest team on DraftKings’ NBA futures board.

The Bucks are a slight favorite at +145 odds to win the Eastern Conference, and the Celtics are a smidge behind them at +150 odds.

Nets and Heat Sprint for Sixth Place

The Nets (43-35) have the upper hand and currently occupy the #6 seed, but the Heat (41-37) are fighting to overtake them and avoid the Play-In Tournament. Both teams have four remaining games. Whomever secures the #6 seed will face MVP-candidate Joel Embiid and the #3 Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.

The Heat have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, and their opponents have a combined .433 winning percentage. They play three away games this week including the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, before back-to-back road games against the 76ers and Wizards on Thursday and Friday. The Heat end the season in Miami against the Orlando Magic.

The Nets have a three-game winning streak on the line when they host the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. They have one more road game against the lowly Pistons on Wednesday, before returning to Brooklyn to end the season. They face the Magic on Friday, and the 76ers on Sunday.

The Heat have a 1% chance to advance to the NBA Finals and a 0.6% chance to win the championship, according to FiveThirtyEight. The Nets have a 0.7% chance to reach the finals, and a 0.2% chance to win the title.

The Heat are +13000 odds to win the championship, according to DraftKings. The Nets are a long shot on the board at +35000 odds.

Play-In Shuffle: Hawks, Raptors, Bulls

The Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors have an identical 39-39 record, but the Hawks hold a tie-break over the Raptors which is why they’re currently in eight place and the Raptors are in ninth place.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls are currently in tenth place with a 38-40 record, but they’re only one game behind both the Hawks and Raptors.

The Hawks, Raptors, and Bulls are trying to finish in eighth place because they could have a shot at snatching the #7 seed if they win their Play-In Tournament matchup between the seventh and eighth place teams.

Even if they lose that game, they’ll still get a second chance to advance to the postseason as the #8 seed so long as they knock off the winner of the ninth place vs. tenth place game.

Teams that finish in ninth or tenth place have a harder path to the final playoff spot. They’ll need two victories in the Play-In Tournament to secure the #8 seed.

The Hawks fired head coach Nate McMillian and hired Quin Snyder to replace him mid-season. The Hawks have yet to find their groove under Snyder, but have remaining games against the Bulls, Wizards, 76ers, and Celtics.

The Raptors have the hardest remaining schedule among the Play-In teams with two more games against the Celtics and the season finale against the Bucks.

The Bulls face the Hawks, Bucks, Dallas Mavs, and Pistons to end the season. The Mavs are on the Western Conference Play-In Tournament bubble, and that game against the Bulls on Friday night could be crucial in their desperate pursuit of the final Play-In spot.

The Hawks and Raptors are both +30000 odds to win the championship. The Bulls are the longest shot on DraftKings’ futures board at +10000 odds to win the title.

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