NBA Playoff Picture: The Celtics' Inexplicable Tank Job

Two items remain at stake in the regular season for the Boston Celtics: who they'll play in the first round and whether they'll have home court advantage in that series. On Friday, they faced the Atlanta Hawks. Beating the Hawks would help in the quest to play the Orlando Magic minus Dwight Howard in the first round. Beating the Hawks would also help ensure home court in the first round, should the Hawks be the opponent.

So Boston did what any insane team would do and basically tanked. The Celtics' starting lineup was Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, Keyon Dooling, Sasha Pavlovic and Greg Stiemsma. What in the world?

Boston actually only lost 97-92, but conceded home court to ATL and gave the Hawks a cushion for the No. 5 seed in the process. Just a stunning disregard for logic, though I'm not ruling out that Doc Rivers is operating on a higher plane of awareness here.

Also in the East, the New York Knicks lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Amare Stoudemire's return to action. The Knicks are now even with the Philadelphia 76ers in the loss column in the race for No. 7.

In the West, both the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder won, keeping the teams within a half-game of each other. (San Antonio has the advantage with just 16 losses; OKC has 17.) The Spurs' win came over the L.A. Lakers, who are now tied in the loss column with the L.A. Clippers for No. 3. Memphis won to pull one game behind the Clippers for No. 4 and stay 1.5 games ahead of Dallas, who also won.

Most teams have 3-4 games left, as the season ends Thursday. Exactly one seed in both conferences -- Indiana's No. 3 in the East -- is "set." Yarrrgh!

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