Eastern conference playoffs picture finalised
Boston will host No. 8 seed Chicago in the first round of the playoffs for the chance to take on either No. 4 seed Washington or No. 5 seed Atlanta in the conference semi-finals.
Cleveland face No. 7 seed Indiana in the first round for the chance to face No. 3 seed Toronto or No. 6 seed Milwaukee in the conference final four.
Boston secured top spot with a win over the Bucks. Gerald Green scored 18 points, 10 of them in a 25-2 fourth-quarter run as Boston won 112-94 in the regular-season finale on Thursday (AEDT)
The Celtics were assured of home-court advantage through the conference finals when Cleveland lost to Toronto minutes before the game ended. Despite playing without star Giannis Antetokounmpo and two other starters, the Bucks led by as many as 13 points before Boston ran off 14 of the last 16 points in the first half. Isaiah Thomas, who was scoreless until then, had 10 of them, including eight straight.
Thomas finished with 13 points and eight assists, but he went to the bench with late in the third quarter and sat out the fourth as the Celtics backups pulled away.
Toronto’s big 98-83 win over the Cavs means the two teams fill likely face off in the second round of the playoffs.
Jonas Valanciunas made his first career three-pointer as the Raptors closed the regular season with a win over the Cavaliers, who didn’t play their “Big 3” All-Stars.
Norman Powell scored 25 points as the Raptors beat the Cavs for the first time in four tries this season and gave the defending champions something to think about if they meet in the postseason.
Cleveland took Toronto down in six games in last year’s Eastern Conference finals.
Although there was still a chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the East, the Cavs put more value on rest and sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Cleveland fell to 0-4 in games this season without the trio and 0-8 minus James.
The Cavs did get forward Tristan Thompson back after he missed four games with a sprained right thumb. Wearing a brace that he’ll sport in the playoffs, Thompson scored 10 points in 18 minutes.
Meanwhile Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Bulls beat the depleted Nets 112-73 in the regular-season finale to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as Chicago took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under coach Fred Hoiberg.
On Tuesday, the Nets, owners of the worst record in the league, announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out due to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.
The win cost the Heat a playoff spot despite Miami winning 110-102 over Washington.
Goran Dragic scored 28 points, Hassan Whiteside added 24 points and 18 rebounds for the Heat.
Miami needed a win, and either a loss by Indiana or Chicago, to reach the postseason. But Indiana downed Atlanta to clinch the No. 7 seed, and Chicago topped Brooklyn to grab the No. 8 spot.