Two nights after the Philadelphia 76ers (36-21) and Los Angeles Lakers (28-29) met on national television, both teams suffered key losses. Philadelphia dropped to the No.5 seed in the East with a loss to the Boston Celtics (36-21), and L.A. fell even further out of the playoff race in the West with a loss to the Atlanta Hawks (19-38).

Boston’s win in Philadelphia meant more than most regular-season games. It marked the third time this season that the 76ers have lost to the Celtics. Boston is 3-0 against Philadelphia after beating them in five games in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Celtics have owned the 76ers, but Philadelphia arguably turned themselves into the East’s best team at the trade deadline. The 76ers solidified their starting lineup by adding Tobias Harris, and the new group looked terrific in wins over the Denver Nuggets (38-18) and Lakers.

Even with Kyrie Irving sidelined, Boston was able to take care of business in Philadelphia behind 26 points from Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have started to rebound from their slow start. They share the same record as the 76ers, but Boston is technically ahead of them in the standings as the No.4 seed because they’ve won the regular-season matchup over Philadelphia.

The two teams are a couple of games behind the Indiana Pacers (38-19) for the No.3 seed. If the playoffs started at the All-Star break, the 76ers and Celtics would meet in the first round of the postseason. Considering Boston’s dominance over Philadelphia, it might be hard to pick the 76ers to win that series.

Jimmy Butler 76ers Celtics
Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives to the basket on Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter of the game at TD Garden on December 25, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Atlanta is far out of the playoff race, but that didn’t stop them from beating a team that’s fighting to get into the postseason. The Lakers’ 117-113 loss to the Hawks kept them in 10th place in the West. They are is 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers (31-27) and Sacramento Kings (30-26) in the race for the No.8 seed.

LeBron James had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists in the loss. The Lakers have gone 2-3 since James’ return from a groin injury, and the NBA’s top star is in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in 14 years.

Tuesday’s loss was especially bad because Los Angeles has a more difficult remaining schedule than both the Clippers and Kings. The Lakers are closer to the No.12 seed than they are the No.8 seed at the All-Star break.

The Lakers likely have to get the No.7 seed in order to avoid a first-round series with the Golden State Warriors (41-15). L.A. is four games behind the San Antonio Spurs (33-26) for that spot in the West.

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