NBA Playoffs 2011: Celtics In Danger Of Falling Below Heat In East Seeding

The Boston Celtics have had a rough stretch, going 5-6 since March 9. The Miami Heat, meanwhile, escaped a tough run and, since March 9, have gone 8-1. That's brought the teams to a near-tie behind the Chicago Bulls in the East's NBA playoff picture.

The Celtics have a half-game edge on the Heat after Sunday's action, and own the tiebreaker due to head-to-head record. Boston is two games behind Chicago, and while that first-round matchup against the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks or Charlotte Bobcats would be a dream, facing the New York Knicks -- currently looking like the No. 7 seed -- would be much preferred to the solid No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers, especially for a team with a damaged offense like the C's.

The Celtics and Heat do meet one more time this season, on April 10. But Miami has a good shot at having a lead on Boston by that point. None of the Heat's next six opponents leading into that game have winning records. Four of Boston's seven do; two of those are the Bulls and Spurs, current conference leaders. PlayoffStatus.com gives the Heat better odds of capturing the No. 2 seed than the Celtics, but that comes with a caveat: Boston has better odds to grab No. 1 from Chicago. The Bulls have a schedule tougher than that of the Heat but not as rough as that of the Celtics. It's highly likely they will finish the season the East's No. 1 seed.

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