The Celtics concluded their forgettable 2013-2014 season last night, losing to the playoff-bound Washington Wizards, 118-102. It brought the final tally of loses to 57, with only 25 lowly wins. To put their futility into perspective, the Celtics were 13-18 on December 31st, nearly doubling their win total in the new year, but more than tripling their losses. Still, this was all done to achieve a better draft position. Mission accomplished, right?

Not quite, it seems. Not only did Boston finish with a 25-57 record, but so did the Utah Jazz. Now, the way that the NBA lottery works (it’s scheduled for Tuesday, May 20th) is that each team has a certain number of chances to get randomly drawn to have the first pick in the draft. Here’s the breakdown, with the NBA’s worst record getting 250 chances, and the best non-playoff team getting only five combinations:

  • 250 combinations, 25.0% chance of receiving the No. 1 pick
  • 199 combinations, 19.9% chance
  • 156 combinations, 15.6% chance
  • 119 combinations, 11.9% chance
  • 88 combinations, 8.8% chance
  • 63 combinations, 6.3% chance
  • 43 combinations, 4.3% chance
  • 28 combinations, 2.8% chance
  • 17 combinations, 1.7% chance
  • 11 combinations, 1.1% chance
  • 8 combinations, 0.8% chance
  • 7 combinations, 0.7% chance
  • 6 combinations, 0.6% chance
  • 5 combinations, 0.5% chance

Of course, given that the Celtics and Jazz are tied for the fourth worst record, the NBA will need to find a tie breaker, since the combined total of the fourth and fifth number of “combinations” is an odd number (207).

How do they do this? Popularly, it’s decided by a coin flip. Two teams flip a coin in late April customarily, deciding who gets that extra combination. This image conjures up the movie Friday Night Lights, where teams meet at an undisclosed truck stop to settle their all-important coin flip.

In reality, it’s much less fun than that. In fact, there isn’t even a coin flip. Like the lottery, it’s likely done using envolopes in a “random drawing.” It’s lame, but if the Celtics win it, they’ll have one extra chance at securing a top pick. This could prove the difference in getting the next Xavier McDaniel instead of Jon Koncak (1985 draft shout-out!)

So listen up for that “coin flip” in the coming weeks, even if the noise you hear is the shuffling of papers, and not a metallic clank.

UPDATE: The coin flip will take place tomorrow afternoon: