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Simulating rest of Celtics' 2023-24 NBA season, with exciting results

Simulating rest of Celtics' 2023-24 NBA season, with exciting results originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics are in a very good spot at the halfway point of the 2023-24 NBA season, but the job is far from finished.

Our friends at Strat-O-Matic simulated the entire 2023-24 NBA season and playoffs back in October.

The results were interesting, and included the Celtics winning 64 games and ultimately beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2024 NBA Finals. Now that we're halfway through the campaign, we asked Strat-O-Matic to do a fresh simulation using the stats and standings as of Thursday morning.

How much did the results change? Do the Celtics still lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June?

Read below for the updated simulation.

Celtics cruise to No. 1 seed in regular season

The Celtics entered Friday with a 32-9 record through 41 games, which is good enough for the league's best record and a four-game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings.

Boston grows its final edge over the Bucks to seven games in our simulation of the rest of the season. The Celtics finish with a 64-18 record, which is the exact win-loss projection from Strat-O-Matic in its preseason simulation. Only three teams in Celtics history -- the 1972-73, 1985-86 and 2007-08 squads -- won more than 64 games, so this group would rank among the franchise's best, at least in regular season terms.

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The Celtics were the only team in our simulation to finish with 60 or more wins. The Minnesota Timberwolves placed first in the Western Conference with a 58-24 record.

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One of the most surprising results of this simulation is LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers missing the playoffs. The Dallas Mavericks also failing to qualify for the playoffs is interesting given their star power with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

The Thunder reached the 50-win mark for the first time since 2015-16, which was Kevin Durant's final season with the franchise before leaving to join the Golden State Warriors in free agency that summer.

Another playoff showdown vs. Bucks

The Celtics opened the playoffs against the Orlando Magic in the No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed matchup in the East. It's the fourth playoff series between these teams and the first since the Celtics defeated the Magic in six games in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals. Boston wasted no time eliminating Orlando in our simulation. The series was over in four games, giving the C's their fourth first-round sweep in the last six years.

The next series on the Celtics' march back to the Finals came against the New York Knicks in the second round. The last time the C's played the Knicks in the conference semifinals or later was 1984, when Boston needed a Game 7 to eliminate New York. This series required less work for the C's, as they defeated the Knicks in just five games in our simulation. As a result, the Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third consecutive campaign.

The Celtics' final hurdle in the East was the Bucks. It was the fourth time in the last seven seasons that these teams met in the playoffs. However, it's the first Eastern Conference Finals matchup featuring these teams since 1986. The Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals with a Game 7 victory over the Bucks at TD Garden. It's the Celtics' third Game 7 victory over the Bucks since the start of the 2018 playoffs.

The Thunder, who earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, reached their second NBA Finals in team history by eliminating the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round (six games), the Sacramento Kings in the conference semifinals (seven games) and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the conference finals (seven games).

Mission accomplished

The Celtics played in their second NBA Finals led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The first time didn't go their way as the Golden State Warriors won the 2022 Finals in six games despite Boston holding a 2-1 series lead after a Game 3 victory.

This series had a different outcome.

The Celtics swept the young and inexperienced Thunder to win their 18th championship -- moving them ahead of the rival Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history -- and their first since 2008.

The C's played in 22 NBA Finals before this season, and the only time they've swept a team was against the St. Louis Hawks in 1958-59.