The six guaranteed playoff spots in the Eastern Conference are officially accounted for after the Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The Hawks win secured their first playoff berth since 2016-17, while the Celtics loss locked the New York Knicks into the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.
Boston is now officially in the play-in tournament along with the Hornets and Pacers. The Wizards still need one more win or a loss from the Bulls to clinch their spot in the play-in next week, and once that happens all 10 spots will be accounted for.
Now, there is still some seeding drama to unfold, as the Hawks are currently in 4th but are just a half-game ahead of the Knicks and Heat, meaning the matchup for the 4-5 game is still very much to be determined. Making that game is going to be something those teams very much want to happen, as the 6-seed is likely going to face the 3-seed Milwaukee Bucks, who are now 1.5 games behind the Nets after Brooklyn’s win over San Antonio.
In the play-in, no one is locked into a seed yet, as the Celtics are just 1.5 games up on Indiana and Charlotte, who are tied for the 8-seed with the Hornets owning the tiebreaker. Making the 7-8 matchup is of incredible importance for the play-in as it requires just one win to make the playoffs rather than two from the 9-10 matchup.