On March 11, the Celtics were in Milwaukee preparing for their showdown the following night against the league-leading Bucks when the NBA was shuttered indefinitely after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Four months later, those teams will get a chance to take care of unfinished business, as they meet on July 31 as part of the NBA’s regular season restart at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The 22 teams that are part of the NBA bubble will play eight games apiece to determine seeding for the playoffs. Teams were slotted to play opponents that were on their remaining schedules when the season was halted.
After facing Milwaukee, the Celtics will face the Blazers on Aug. 2, the Heat on Aug. 4, the Nets on Aug. 5, the Raptors on Aug. 7, the Magic on Aug. 9, the Grizzlies on Aug. 11 and the Wizards on Aug. 13.
The Celtics are 43-21 and in third place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind the second-place Raptors. If Boston defeat Toronto it would hold the tiebreaker between the teams. The Celtics are also 2½ games ahead of the fourth-place Heat.
Potential standings shuffling is most likely further down in the standings. The 76ers, who were in position to face Boston in the first round of the playoffs, are tied with the Pacers in the No. 5 spot. The Nets are in seventh place, just a half-game ahead of the eighth-place Magic. If the Celtics slide past the Raptors, they would face one of those two teams in the first round.
If the Raptors and Celtics meet in the conference semifinals, of course, seeding would no longer matter, because no teams will have homecourt advantage during the postseason.
The top eight teams in each conference and the six with the next highest winning percentages will compete in the eight seeding games on the enclosed Disney campus. The games will be played without fans in attendance, but players are expected to be able to watch other games.
When the seeding games are complete, the top seven teams in each conference will clinch playoff berths, and if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed, those two teams will have a play-in tournament. The No. 8 seed would have to win just one game to advance to the playoffs while the No. 9 seed would need to win two. The playoffs will be the regularly scheduled best-of-seven format.
Celtics two-league contract players Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall on Friday were named to All-NBA G League teams.
Waters, a rookie point guard from LSU, was a second-team all-league selection, and Fall was chosen for the All-Defensive team. Waters, who was previously named the league’s rookie of the year, averaged 18 points, 3.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists for the Maine Red Claws. Fall averaged 12.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per contest. Both players are expected to accompany the Celtics when they resume the NBA season in Orlando next month.