There is officially one week left of the NBA regular season. This is the current seeding for the Eastern Conference:
- Cleveland Cavaliers* (56-22)
- Toronto Raptors* (52-25)
- Atlanta Hawks* (46-32)
- Boston Celtics* (45-32)
- Miami Heat* (45-32)
- Charlotte Hornets* (44-33)
- Indiana Pacers (41-36)
- Detroit Pistons (41-37)
- Chicago Bulls (39-39)
* = clinched
The most interesting part about this seeding is how much it has changed over the last few weeks. Every team except Cleveland and Toronto has been moving up and down the ranks and with only one week left of games, this is a critical time for everyone below 2nd place.
Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks
Coming off of a first round sweep last season against Cleveland, the Celtics have improved their record and currently hold the 4th seed. They have five regular season games left against the Pelicans, Bucks, Hornets, Hawks, and Heat. Their record is currently tied with Miami and if both Miami and Boston win tonight and tomorrow, they will both be tied with Atlanta for the 3rd seed.
Best Case Scenario for Boston:
The best case scenario for the Celtics is to try and take the 3rd seed spot from Atlanta and here’s why:
- If Boston takes the 3rd seed from Atlanta:
- They would play Charlotte in the first round instead of Miami
- Boston is (2-0) vs Charlotte
- The Hawks would then be playing Miami in the first round
- Boston can potentially avoid playing Atlanta in the second round because:
- Boston is (1-2) vs Atlanta
- Miami can potentially eliminate Atlanta in the first round
- Atlanta is (1-3) vs Miami
- Boston would avoid Cleveland in the second round
- Boston is (2-0) vs Miami
- Boston is (1-2) vs Cleveland
- Miami is (2-1) vs Cleveland
- Celtics and Heat could go to the ECF
If the Celtics can avoid Atlanta and Cleveland at all costs, this would be the best case scenario. Miami is better against the Hawks and can potentially knock them out, and the Celtics have a better chance of beating Miami over Atlanta. Based on their remaining schedule, I think it’s very possible for the Celtics to do.
Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls
Tomorrow’s Heat vs Bulls game is a big deal for both teams. Chicago (9th) is two games behind Detroit (8th), so every game is a must-win for them if they hope to even make the playoffs. Miami is still trying to move up in the playoff ranks, so every game matters for them as well. Both of these teams have been plagued with injuries this season and have struggled because of that. Dwyane Wade just got back into the lineup after being out with neck and back injuries and Hassan Whiteside is a day-to-day after taking a hit to the thigh on Tuesday against the Pistons. As for Chicago, Taj Gibson is still out with a rib injury and E’Twaun Moore is day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
While we’re on the topic of injuries, Cleveland can definitely relate. Last season, the Cavaliers lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving due to injuries in the first round against Boston. LeBron James carried the team to the Finals, but we all know how well that ended. Kyrie Irving was just put back into the lineup again after suffering a sprained ankle, so the Cavaliers will be going into the playoffs with a full, healthy roster.
Check out my analysis of the Western Conference and follow my blog for more news, playoff ticket price reports, and tips on selling your NBA tickets!