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How The Celtics Can Clinch Home Court In Playoffs

BOSTON (CBS) -- Following Friday night's win over the Bucks, the Celtics appeared to be on cruise control towards clinching home court advantage in the NBA Playoffs.

But after dropping back-to-back contests against the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets, that quest for home court is in a bit of a tail spin.

The Celtics wake up Tuesday morning with a 47-34 record, tied with the Hornets for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams trail the Miami Heat for the four-seed by half a game and the Hawks by a full game. Miami can pull even with Atlanta with a win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

Yes, it's a mess right now. Things will get really interesting Wednesday night when all four teams currently mucking up the middle of the Eastern Conference are in action.

So where will the Celtics end up when it's all said and done? They can no longer sneak into the three-seed in the East, but there's still a chance they clinch the four-seed and host the first round of the playoffs.

Here are the scenarios Boston faces heading into game No. 82 of the regular season:

- The best case scenario for the Celtics is the four-seed, which they can clinch a few different ways. They'd earn home court in the first round if the Heat lose to Detroit on Tuesday and the C's beat the Heat on Wednesday. Should the Heat beat the Pistons, the Celtics can still clinch the four-seed with a win over the Heat and an Atlanta win over Washington on Wednesday. They would also clinch home court if they beat the Heat and the Hornets beat the Magic on Wednesday.

- The Celtics will be the five-seed if there is a wild four-way tie and the C's, Hawks, Hornets and Heat finish with identical 48-34 records. Miami would be the three-seed by way of winning the Southeast Division, while Atlanta would fall to fourth ahead of Boston via tiebreakers. So on Wednesday, Boston will be rooting for the Hawks.

The Celtics will also finish fifth in the Eastern Conference if they lose to the Heat and the Hornets lose to Orlando on Wednesday night.

- Boston will fall to the six-seed if Miami wins their final two games and Charlotte beats Orlando on Wednesday. While that would mean the Celtics would avoid the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round if they advance, they'd be facing a team they recently lost to with Games 1 and 2 on the road.

The bottom line for the Celtics is, beat the Heat on Wednesday and they'll very likely be hosting the playoffs come this weekend. If not, they'll be starting the postseason on the road.

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