Eastern Conference Matchups Still Unpredictable


With exactly 8 days of games remaining in the regular season, the Eastern Conference playoffs are still extremely unclear. If the playoffs started today, the matchups would look like this:

#1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #8 Indiana Pacers

#2 Toronto Raptors vs. #7 Detroit Pistons

#3 Atlanta Hawks vs. #6 Charlotte Hornets

#4 Miami Heat vs. #5 Boston Celtics

However, in two weeks these standings may look a lot different. Half a game is the difference between the 3 seed Atlanta Hawks and the 6 seed Charlotte Hornets.

#3 Atlanta Hawks 

Atlanta currently has a record of 45-32. They are currently on a 2 game losing streak from losses against Toronto and Cleveland last week. With 5 games remaining, two of them are against Toronto and Cleveland once again. However the Cleveland game is one week from today, and by then the Cavaliers should have first place clinched, and therefore they could rest players. Atlanta most likely will not be resting players due to this tight playoff race that they are in. The other 3 games that the Hawks have are against Phoenix tomorrow, Boston on Saturday, and Washington on the last night of the regular season. Hopefully the Hawks beat the Suns, and then Boston and Washington will both be tough matchups because the Celtics are also in this Eastern Conference scramble. Washington is on the outside looking into the playoff picture. The Hawks will go 3-2 in their final 5 games, losing to Boston and Toronto, and finish the season 48-34.

#4 Boston Celtics

After getting a huge win in Oakland Friday night, the Celtics are tied with the Atlanta Hawks, being 45-32. However, Boston’s last 5 games are a lot more intriguing than Atlanta’s. The men in green start with two home games against New Orleans and Milwaukee, both winnable games. If all goes well, Boston will be 47-32 going into their last 3 games. Those last 3 are against Atlanta on April 9th, Charlotte on April 11th, and Miami on April 13th. The Celtics are very fortunate to get to face all 3 of the teams they are in the race with in their last 3 games. Talk about Luck of the Irish! So Boston has the ability to control their destiny and essentially guarantee themselves 3rd place by winning those 3 games or at least 2 of them. Boston has the tiebreaker against Miami and Charlotte if they lose one of those, and gains the tiebreaker against Atlanta by beating them. The Celtics will go on to conclude the season 4-1 and finish with a 49-33 record.

#5 Miami Heat

Currently, the Heat are 44-32. Looking back, they had the chance to beat the Lakers last Wednesday, March 30th, and that would have made them 45-31, and in 1st place in this playoff race. But, the past is the past, and Miami has some work to do if they would like to control that 3 seed, or even get home court in the first round. Of their 6 games left, 4 of them are against teams above .500. The other two are against the Orlando Magic, who despite a below-average record, have shown signs of improvement this year. As mentioned earlier, they also play the Boston Celtics, which happens to be on the final night of the regular season. The other 3 include 2 against Detroit, and the other against Chicago. Detroit is in 8th and has not clinched, Chicago is in 9th and is out of the playoffs by 2 games. To make things short, these 3 games will be far from easy as these are essentially playoff games for the other teams. Miami will end the season beating Orlando twice, Detroit once, and Chicago which would give Miami a 48-34 record, tying them with Atlanta. Miami does indeed own the tiebreaker, therefore as long as they finish with the same record as Miami, they will have home court advantage in the playoffs.

#6 Charlotte Hornets

It is incredible how well Charlotte has played after the all star break. Prior to January 31st, the Hornets were 22-25, since then they have gone 22-7 and have catapulted themselves into a race that could land them 3rd. Their record is now 44-32, tied with Miami. The problem with Charlotte is that they do not own any tiebreakers against any of the other teams they are competing with for seeds. Their last 6 games are all against Eastern Conference teams, but only 2 of those teams are in the playoffs. They play Toronto and Boston, and they need to win one of these games. Unfortunately, they will lose both, but win their remaining 4 games to end the season 48-34.

With these changes, the matchups would look like so:

#3 Boston Celtics (49-33) vs #6 Charlotte Hornets (48-34)

#4 Miami Heat (48-34) vs #5 Atlanta Hawks (48-34)

*the 1 vs 8 and 2 vs 7 matchups will not change in this scenario.

Overall, the teams all currently have the same amounts of losses. Boston has the best case scenario because they can put a loss on all the other teams by beating them. It will certainly be interesting to see how the final week and a half pan out, and it would be crazy to see a 3 vs 6 matchup with records separated by a game. Thankfully, the Eastern Conference is back to being competitive and it should be a thrilling postseason.

Chat with me on twitter @BrianHeston35 to talk about NBA related news. Feel free to drop a comment below on your thoughts!

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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