Schedule aiding Celtics' playoff push

Updated: March 30, 2004, 11:38 AM ET
By By Terry Brown | NBA Insider
Paul Pierce is no palm reader. He can't tell your past or predict the future. He didn't turn fortune teller, either, when he said the Celtics would make it into the postseason despite the fact that when he said it, the Celtics were actually in ninth place.

He simply flipped the calender over to April and saw that his team plays only one opponent with a winning record in the final two weeks of the season.

He can read. And he can do a little math, too.

He knows that in their last game of March they'll face the Blazers in Boston and not in Portland, and that could make all the difference in the world because the Blazers are 24-13 at home and only 13-23 on the road.

He can also see that the Knicks, the team just ahead of the Celtics in the standings, not only have to play the Pacers and Nets in those last two weeks but also the Sixers in Philly and the Wizards in D.C. And that could make all the difference in the world because the former has won 20 at home compared to only 11 on the road while the latter has won 16 at home compared to only seven on the road.

So instead of just counting up road games and quality opponents to compile our strength of schedule analysis for the last two weeks of the season, we looked at each Eastern Conference playoff contender and added up its opponents' corresponding home or road records.

A look below shows that the Knicks, with only a half-game lead on the Celtics and two-game lead on the Cavs, are in much more danger of falling out of the postseason than Boston (which could very well move up to seventh place) and may have to wait until the final game of the season, an April 14 game against Cleveland in Madison Square Garden, to see who gets the eight and final seed that the Celtics currently possess.

And you don't need a Jayhawk education to see that.