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Celtics lose three draft tiebreakers, get prolonged drama with Grizzlies first-rounder

Celtics Grizzlies Basketball

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, center, drives between Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) and forward Marcus Morris (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)


Neither the Grizzlies nor Celtics want a middling lottery pick this year.

They’ll have to continue sweating out which team will get stuck with it.

Memphis owes Boston a first-round pick that’s top-eight protected this year. The Grizzlies want to convey it in what’s perceived to be a weak draft. The Celtics would rather push it down the road, to 2020 (when it’s just top-six protected) or 2021 (when it’s unprotected).

After entering today’s draft tiebreaker with a 44% chance of the pick conveying this year, the drawing ended with a 43% chance of it conveying this year (per data from Tankathon).

For perspective, Memphis’ odds of conveying this year could have swung to 17% or 74% in today’s drawing. Now, a lot of pressure falls on next month’s lottery.

The Grizzlies have a 26% chance of getting a top-four pick, which they probably wouldn’t mind keeping. There’s a 31% chance they get the undesired No. 8 pick. And that leaves a 43% chance of sending Boston a pick in the 9-12 range.

The Pelicans won the three-team tiebreaker to get the No. 7 slot in the lottery. Memphis has the No. 8 slot. The Hawks via the Mavericks got the No. 9 slot, though if that pick lands in the top four, Dallas will keep it. Like the Grizzlies, the Mavericks and Pelicans were already locked into 26% chances of a top-four pick.

Other ties broken for the lottery:

The Cavaliers will pick ahead of the Suns at No. 5/6 if neither team gets drawn in the lottery. Each team has a 52% chance of getting a top-four pick.

The Hornets (12) Heat (13) and Celtics via the Kings (14) are locked into their lottery slots and likely draft picks. Each team has a 5% chance of landing in the top four. If Sacramento’s pick is No. 1, it goes to the 76ers, and Boston gets Philadelphia’s No. 24 pick.

A few ties were also broke for actual draft slots outside the lottery. The locked-in first-round picks:

16. Magic

17. Nets


18. Pacers

19. Spurs

20. Celtics (via Clippers)


21. Thunder

22. Celtics


25. Trail Blazers

26. Cavaliers (via Rockets)

All three late-lottery and non-lottery tiebreakers went against Boston. But at least the affected picks are resolved or mostly resolved.

The Celtics will have to continue holding their breath about the Memphis pick.