NEW YORK — The Boston Celtics are trying to go from No. 1 seed to No. 1 pick.

The Los Angeles Lakers don’t need to be first, but they sure better not be worse than third.

A night that’s normally for the NBA’s biggest losers has huge consequences this time for its greatest champions as the league holds its annual draft lottery Tuesday night.

There’s plenty at stake for teams such as Philadelphia, New Orleans and Sacramento, whose draft strategies can change enormously if the pingpong balls bounce right. But for the Celtics and Lakers, who were busy playing each other in the NBA finals back when the lottery was instituted in 1985, the swings could help determine how quickly they can get back to their former heights.

Boston will have a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick, thanks to a trade that keeps paying off nearly four years later.

When the Celtics decided to break up the remaining core of their 17th NBA championship team, they dealt Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn as part of a draft-night deal in 2013. Boston got back first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, as well as the right to swap picks this year.

The Nets are rebuilding and had the NBA’s worst record this season, so the timing worked out perfectly for the Celtics.

That’s why team president Danny Ainge refused to make any win-now deals before February’s deadline that would have affected their good chances of winning later.

“It’s a win-win and when you’re the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and you have all these assets, you don’t need to be in a hurry and can just take your time,” said TNT analyst Kevin McHale, a former coach and executive who played with Ainge in Boston.

The lottery sets the top three picks, and the remainder of the 14 teams in the lottery will select in the inverse order of their finish, so the Celtics can do no worse than the No. 4 pick.

The Lakers don’t have that luxury. They start in the No. 3 spot, and if they fall any lower, their pick goes to Philadelphia. The Lakers dealt the pick to Phoenix in 2012, and the 76ers later acquired it from the Suns.