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No. 2 seed slipping away from Celtics as Raptors win again

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The chances of the Boston Celtics earning the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed in the 2020 NBA playoffs are quickly becoming very slim.

The Toronto Raptors defeated the Miami Heat 107-103 in the NBA’s Orlando bubble Monday afternoon. The victory increases Toronto’s lead over Boston for the No. 2 seed to four games.

The East standings currently look like this:

1. Milwaukee Bucks: 54-13
2. Toronto Raptors: 48-18, 5.5 GB
3. Boston Celtics: 44-22, 9.5 GB
4. Miami Heat: 42-25, 12 GB
5. Indiana Pacers: 40-26, 13.5 GB
6. Philadelphia 76ers: 39-27, 14.5 GB
7. Orlando Magic: 32-35, 22 GB
8. Brooklyn Nets: 31-35, 22.5 GB
9. Washington Wizards: 24-42, 29.5 GB

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston’s coverage of Celtics-Heat, which begins Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Both the Celtics and Raptors have six seeding games remaining, and they’ll meet once head-to-head on Friday, Aug. 7. Not only do the Celtics need to win nearly all of their remaining games to have a chance to overtake the Raptors for the No. 2 seed, they also need Toronto to struggle and lose many of its remaining matchups. While it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the C’s won the rest of their games, it definitely would be shocking if the Raptors collapsed over the next week. The Raptors have lost consecutive games only three times this season, and their longest losing streak was only three games.

Toronto already won its toughest seeding game of the restart — an impressive 15-point victory over the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Here’s the Raptors’ schedule to finish the seeding games:

Aug. 5 vs. Orlando Magic
Aug. 7 vs. Boston Celtics
Aug. 9 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Aug. 10 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Aug. 12 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Aug. 14 vs. Denver Nuggets

The Miami Heat, even with Monday’s loss to the Raptors, are still a threat to catch the Celtics for the No. 3 seed. Miami is 2.5 games behind Boston, and these teams will square off Tuesday night. A head-to-head victory for the Celtics would be a huge dent in the Heat’s chances of grabbing the No. 3 seed. Miami has two tough games coming up against the C’s and the Milwaukee Bucks, but its final four matchups all are very winnable.

Here’s a look at the Heat’s remaining schedule:

Aug. 4 vs. Boston Celtics
Aug. 6 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Aug. 8 vs. Phoenix Suns
Aug. 10 vs. Indiana Pacers
Aug. 12 vs. Oklahoma City
Aug. 14 vs. Indiana Pacers

The real question for the Celtics right now, especially with them looking like a strong bet to finish as the No. 3 seed, is which team will they match up against in Round 1 of the playoffs. If the season ended today, Boston would play the Philadelphia 76ers in the No. 3 vs. No. 6 first-round series. The Sixers’ first seeding game was a disaster as they allowed T.J. Warren to score a career-high 53 points in an Indiana Pacers win.

The most likely first-round opponents for the Celtics are the 76ers and Pacers. The Pacers would be an easier matchup given their injuries to key players, including All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis.

NBA playoff picture: No. 2 seed slipping away from Celtics as Raptors win again originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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