Breaking down East playoff races: a few seeds still up in air
There are just three days and two games per team left in the NBA season, and yet we have questions. In the East those questions are mainly about who gets the bottom couple seeds — and with that wiped out in the first round — but they are questions none the less.
Here are where things stand as of Monday morning in the Eastern Conference.
No. 1 seed: The Atlanta Hawks have officially locked up the top spot. They have home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
No. 2 seed: The Cleveland Cavaliers’ have locked up the two seed.
No. 3-5 seeds: Toronto and Chicago are in a dead heat, tied for the 3-4 seeds at 48-32. Toronto has the tie breaker and the easier schedule — the Bulls face the Nets and Hawks (although the Hawks are resting guys); the Raptors have the Celtics and Hornets.
Toronto has home-court in the first round. The Wizards are two games back of the Bulls and Raptors, and they can — mathematically — catch the Bulls and get the four seed. But most likely Washington is the five seed starting on the road.
No. 6 seed: With their win Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks locked up the six seed. That’s quite an accomplishment for a team most thought was lottery bound before the season.
No. 7-8 seeds: Smart money has the Celtics and Nets getting the last couple playoff spots, but that is not set in stone. Here is where we are in the standings:
7. Boston —
8. Brooklyn (-1 game)
9. Indiana (-1 games)
10. Miami (-2 games)
Boston has a magic number of one to make the playoffs; they just need a win in their last two games (Toronto, Milwaukee).
The Nets have the tie breaker with Indiana, which is huge, but the two teams are tied. Brooklyn finishes the season against Chicago and Orlando, the Pacers face Washington and Memphis. You have to like the Nets’ chances. If the Nets lose both games and the Heat win both of theirs — Orlando and Philadelphia — then the Heat will tie Brooklyn and can get in because the tie breaker falls to Miami.