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Celtics win NBA Draft lottery

AP

The Celtics won by beating out the Lakers, giving the draft lottery an old NBA Finals feel.

Yet, obvious by Magic Johnson’s smile, the hated rivals were both celebrating.

The Celtics won the lottery Tuesday night to continue another amazing basketball springtime in Boston, capitalizing on a trade they made with the Brooklyn Nets four years ago.

A night after winning Game 7 against Washington to secure an Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland, the Celtics cashed in their 25 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick in the June draft.

“Game last night, Game 7, a tough Washington team. Game tomorrow against a tough Cleveland team. And now we squeeze in the lottery and win the pick. I don’t know what’s happening here. It’s pretty amazing,” said Wyc Grousbeck, a Celtics owner who represented them on stage.

The Lakers moved up one spot to second to hold onto their pick. They would have had to trade it to Philadelphia if it fell outside the top three.

“When (deputy commissioner Mark Tatum) called out No. 4 and he said it wasn’t us, I said ‘Um, that’s it, that’s all I care about,’ ” said Johnson, the Hall of Famer in his first year as Lakers president. “I didn’t know where we were going to land from there, but I was like ‘OK, I can breathe now.’ ”

The Celtics finished dismantling the team that beat the Lakers to win the 2008 championship when they traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn on the night of the 2013 draft. Boston acquired the Nets’ 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round picks, as well as the rights to swap in 2017.

The timing was perfect for the Celtics, as Brooklyn finished with the worst record in the league.

“And look what I leave behind for the Celts on my way out (No. 1) pick,” Pierce wrote on Twitter.

The 76ers will pick third, while Phoenix fell two spots and is fourth.

“I’m excited,” 76ers rookie center Joel Embiid said. “We jumped up one more spot. I wish we would have gotten the No. 1 pick, but we trust the process and it’s going to be exciting to see what we’re going for.”

The Celtics were going to be in prime position no matter how the balls bounced in a hotel ballroom Tuesday. They were guaranteed no worse than the No. 4 pick to add to a team that had the best record in the East this season behind All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

“It’s two completely different situations: One is a lot about the future, and one is in the present,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said. “This team is a lot of fun to be around this year.”