The Cleveland Cavaliers at one point in the not so distant past had at least a five-game lead while sitting atop of the NBA Eastern Conference. That is now a distant memory as the Boston Celtics led by Isaiah Thomas are on a four-game winning streak and now lead the Cavaliers by half a game. Right behind Cleveland is Washington who is on a three-game winning streak of their own. Yep, the John Wall-led Wizards who are only two and a half games back with nine games left in their regular season. By the way, did I mention that the Toronto Raptors are on a five-game winning streak and they are only a game behind the Wizards which means they are only three and a half games behind Boston and Cleveland.
Confused? Well, let me make it simple. There are eight playoff spots available in the Eastern Conference; actually, there are only four spots available. Cleveland, Boston, Washington, and Toronto have already locked up four spots.
That means that in the Eastern Conference Atlanta, Milwaukee, Indiana, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, and Charlotte are all playing with the hope of the getting last available playoff spots in the conference.The intriguing thing about this situation is that between Atlanta (who is currently in the five spot )and Charlotte (who is 12th) the two teams are only separated by four games. The Hawks are currently on a seven-game losing streak, and no one is on a hot streak at the moment. But keep an eye on ATL they will either snap the current slump or play themselves right out of the post-season.
Now out West Golden State still has the best record in the NBA with 59 wins and only 14 losses and the San Antonio Spurs are right behind the Warriors with only two games separating the two teams.Houston, Utah and the L.A. Clippers are following with the closest team (Houston) behind by six games, and with the regular season winding down they will not catch the Spurs or the Warriors. But all three teams have clinched a play off birth, which means that there are only three spots left in the Western Conference.
Currently, Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Portland own the final three spots and the only team in any real trouble is Portland. The Trail Blazers are tied with the Denver Nuggets at the moment, but Portland holds on to the head to head tie breaker and thus are the eighth seed. Denver has hope because their season comes down to which team can win the most games in the nine games left in the season. I give the nod to Portland because they are on a three-game winning streak and won 7 of their last ten games. Denver lost four of their last ten and can’t afford to repeat that scenario. There is a possibility that Dallas or New Orleans can sneak up on Portland and Denver in these final games of the season, nine-game but that would take either catching fire and nine-game winning streak. I don’t see that happening.
So, right with nine games or less left in the regular season, the playoff seedings looks like this:
Eastern Conference :
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers
#3 Washington Wizards
#4 Toronto Raptors
#5 Atlanta Hawks
#6 Milwaukee Bucks
#7 Indiana Pacers
#8 Miami Heat
#1 Golden State Warriors
#2 San Antonio Spurs
#3 Houston Rockets
#4 Utah Jazz
#5 Los Angeles Clippers
#6 Oklahoma City Thunder
#7 Memphis Grizzlies
#8 Portland Trail Blazers
(All of my sources come from NBA.com)
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Trevin A Jones