Mercifully, there's only one game left in the 2013-14 season for the Boston Celtics.
Boston watched its two-game winning streak end Monday in Philadelphia as the 76ers withstood the Celtics' fourth-quarter surge and emerged with a 113-108 triumph at Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics stand in sole possession of the fifth-worst record in the NBA, which would give the team a 29.1 percent chance at a top-three pick and an 8.8 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick.
A look at the full lottery standings through Monday's games, thanks to our friends at Tankathon:
With the Lakers' triumph over the Jazz on Monday, Boston has a one-game cushion on both sides with a single game to play. With a loss on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, the Celtics would assure themselves of no worse than the fifth position.
If Boston finishes in a tie with Utah for the fourth-worst record, the two teams would split the lottery probability for those two spots -- meaning each team receives 103 pingpong combinations (out of 1,000). One extra combination is awarded to the team that wins a random drawing, and that team will also pick first if neither team vaults to a top-three pick.
Likewise, if the Celtics and Lakers end up knotted for the fifth-worst mark, the two teams would each receive 75 pingpong balls and draw for the extra combo and the tiebreaker.
The Wizards will have motivation to end Boston's season with a loss as they jockey for playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Washington needs a win Wednesday to assure itself the sixth seed in the East, which would mean the Wizards would avoid a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat.
Regardless of Wednesday's finale, the Celtics will finish the season with the third-worst winning percentage in franchise history. Boston already owns one win more than the 2006-07 entry that went 24-58. That year, Boston's record was good enough to easily have the second-worst record in basketball (though the pingpong balls defied them and the Celtics landed the fifth pick).
If the Lakers had defeated the Jazz on Monday, Boston would have been in a three-way tie for the fourth-worst record in basketball. In that instance, the Celtics' chances at a higher pick would have been only marginally better (90 pingpong combinations) and the Celtics would have been at the mercy of a random drawing to determine if Los Angeles or Utah would be in front of them for tiebreaking purposes.
The Celtics have one more game to go in this frustrating season, and then all eyes can lock on May 20, when draft position will finally be determined at the lottery drawing.