Whoa, whoa, whoa. So the Boston Celtics, 0-4 against the Atlanta Hawks, somehow possess a tie-breaker between the two teams if they finish in a stalemate? Thank you, David Stern.
According to Chris Forsberg, it’s true: The Celtics would win the third seed — and homecourt advantage if the two teams should meet in the playoffs — if the two teams finish in a tie. (ESPNBoston)
According to the NBA, a division leader automatically trumps a second-place finisher in another division. So, assuming the Orlando Magic win the Southeast Division (they’re 4.5 games up on Atlanta), it’s actually the Hawks that will need to finish ahead of Boston in order to net that third seed.
We bet Atlanta’s not thrilled with that tie-breaking procedure considering the strength of the respective divisions. Especially since, under a tie scenario, the Celtics would boast homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals should the teams meet there.
So the Hawks smacked the Celtics around on four separate occasions, but the Celtics hold the tie-breaker because they can outlast Toronto to win the Atlantic Division. I like it, but it’s absurd.
A two-way tie should be broken by head-to-head record, then go to something like Division winner if the season series is split. There is no way a team that lost all four games to an opponent should somehow win a tie-breaker against that same opponent. No way.
But I like it. That third seed could be pivotal to get away from Milwaukee in the first round, and Cleveland in the second.