BOSTON (CBS) -- The Boston Celtics greatly improved their playoff odds Wednesday night, jumping into a tie for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
Boston's 113-103 win over the Detroit Pistons tied them with the Brooklyn Nets, with both teams owning a one-game lead over the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for the final two playoff spots with just four games to go in the regular season.
Up next for the Celtics is a home-and-home with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who clinched the two-seed in the East on Wednesday. Boston will likely only have to face LeBron James and Cleveland's other stars once over the next four days, given that Cleveland no longer has anything to play for in the regular season.
If the playoffs started today, Boston would be facing off against Cleveland in the first round. If they fall back to the eight-seed, they would face the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks.
While they've been a great story this season, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix says the Celtics won't put up much of a fight against the East's top two teams when the playoffs begin.
"I don't think either [series] goes longer than five games. I'd love to sit here and say this upstart, plucky bunch is going to be able to hang in there with Cleveland or Atlanta, but I just don't see it," Mannix told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich on Thursday.
"There is a perception out there that the Hawks are not ready for prime time and are beatable in the playoffs. People haven't been watching the Hawks all season," said Mannix. "Jeff Teague isn't going to forget how to destroy people on the way to the basket, Kyle Korver isn't going to forget how to shoot threes and Al Horford isn't going to forget to do what he does. I think the Hawks are the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference, including Cleveland.
"It's just a matter of personnel at this point. It takes nothing away from what Boston has done to this point, but they just don't have the horses," said Mannix.
Boston's success this season has put a big spotlight on head coach Brad Stevens, who is receiving praise around the league. He's also had his name mentioned as a possibility for a handful of college openings, causing some worry that the former Butler coach may jump back to the college ranks if the right offer comes along.
But Mannix says Boston fans have nothing to worry about.
"He's not leaving. I would be stunned beyond words if Brad Stevens left. Successful pro coaches don't go back to college," said Mannix. "Brad Stevens is in year two of a six-year deal, and has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is going to be a star as an NBA coach."
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