The playoffs start in about nine days. Let's take a quick look on what's happening in the playoff picture. Let's start with the Eastern Conference because that seems much more easier to decipher. I'll have the Western Conference in the next entry.
1. CHICAGO BULLS (47-15)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 2 home, 2 road) @ MIA, v DAL, @ IND, v CLE
It's quite amazing that they've kept the best record with Derrick Rose missing quite a few games. There is no doubt about their defensive prowess but if Rose is still ailing, can they keep this up? Especially if they go back to a seven-gamer with Miami? Anyway, they get to have another go-round with them tonight AT Miami. They have a chance to pretty much lock up the first seed if they win there.
2. MIAMI HEAT (44-17)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (5 games, 3 h, 2 r) v CHI, v WAS, v HOU, @ BOS, @ WAS
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I don't know if they have that switch but I think it's important for them to have momentum going into the playoffs. Two games with the Wizards would definitely help but I think they need to send a message tonight in their game against the Bulls. They're not going to go lower than 2, though, so they might have to take the same route as last year to get back to the Finals.
3. INDIANA PACERS (40-22)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 4 h) v MIL, v PHI, v DET, v CHI
I don't know what to make of this team because they're kind of a new kid on the block. But they have a nice mix of young guys and veterans in this team. The core just needs more experience. This is why I think Chicago and Miami are just that much ahead of them... but what do I know? This season hasn't made sense at all.
4. BOSTON CELTICS (37-26)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (3 games, 2 h, 1 r) @ ATL, v MIA, v MIL
This team could potentially mix it up with the upper tier in the East. Their defense is still pretty damn scary and Kevin Garnett seems to have found the fountain of youth. And Rajon Rondo has had a penchant of getting trip-dubs on national television. If there's any team that can upset the balance of the East, it's Boston.
5. ATLANTA HAWKS (37-25)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games. 4 h) v BOS, v NY, v LAC, v DAL
No matter if they have home court against Boston or not... and even if they do get past Boston (seems unlikely), they're just basically a 2nd round team. I just don't see them getting any further than that.
6. ORLANDO MAGIC (36-26)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 1 h, 3 r) @ UTA, @ DEN, v CHA, @ MEM
They say staying in the sixth seed is perfect for them because they think Indiana would be a good match-up for the Magic. I disagree, especially with Dwight Howard questionable for the playoffs (and he has been questionable this entire season). After their early exit, they might as well go ahead and start over. It's not going to be a pretty end to this campaign.
7. NEW YORK KNICKS (33-29)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 1 h, 3 r) @ CLE, @ ATL, v LAC, @ CHA
We have seen about 74 incarnations of the Knicks this season... and none of them are going to beat either Miami or Chicago in a seven-game series. It's just a question on how close they can beat one of those teams and see if Mike Woodson gets extended.
8. PHILADELPHIA 76ers (32-30)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 4 r) @ IND, @ NJ, @ MIL, @ DET
They've been on a freefall as of late and they don't have any remaining home games. Still, I don't think they're going to fall out of the playoffs... but the more pressing issue is what they're going to do in the offseason. This team is mediocrity personified.
9. MILWAUKEE BUCKS (29-32)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (5 games, 3 h, 2 r) @ IND, v NJ, v TOR, v PHI, @ BOS
Well, at least, that Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings tandem seems fun?
10. DETROIT PISTONS (23-39)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 3 h, 1 r) v MIN, v TOR, @ IND, v PHI
There's really not much to cheer for here. But outside the tied-up contracts they have in Motown, at least they have Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. And awesome halftime acts like Bell Biv DeVoe.
11. NEW JERSEY NETS (22-41)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (3 games, 1 h, 2 r) @ MIL, v PHI, @ TOR
You know, a miracle can still happen in the offseason. With Dwight Howard continuing to act up in Orlando, they STILL might be able to get him. And if that happens, Deron Williams is more likely to stay. Cross them fingers, Nets fans.
12. TORONTO RAPTORS (22-41)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (3 games, 1 h, 2 r) @ DET, @ MIL, v NJ
At least, Dwane Casey is getting them to play defense. Baby steps.
13. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (20-41)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (5 games, 2 h, 3 r) v NY, @ SA, @ MEM, v WAS, @ CHI
They are very good at tanking. Now they're going to get a player from this deep draft to pair along with Kyrie Irving. The future is bright.
14. WASHINGTON WIZARDS (16-46)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (4 games, 2 h, 2 r) @ MIA, v CHA, @ CLE, v MIA
John Wall just wants this misery to end.
15. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (7-54)
REMAINING SCHEDULE: (5 games, 3 h, 2 r) v MEM, v SAC, @ WAS, @ ORL, v NY
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