(Photo Courtesy if WEEI)
It’s about that time of year again. Teams have less than 20 games until the NBA playoffs begin. As you can see, the race to grab an 8th seed or higher in the in the Eastern Conference is getting tight. The current standings have the Detroit Pistons at 7thand Chicago Bulls at 8th. Both teams have an identical record of 31-33. The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks are right outside the 8th seed with nearly the same record as well. Miami is 31-34 sitting in the 9th spot.
Milwaukee is 30-33 sitting at 10th in the standings. If the Charlotte Hornets plays really well, they could also snatch the 8th place. They have a record of 28-36 at the 11th place. Ironically Miami and Milwaukee are hot right now. Miami has won 3 games in a row, winning 7 out of 10 of their last games. Milwaukee has won 4 games in a row, also winning 7 out of 10 of their last games. Those two teams also have positive point differentials, unlike the Pistons and Bulls who are on the decline. The Pistons have only won 6 out of their last 10 games.
The Bulls have only won 5 out their last 10, and are currently on a 3-game losing streak. So the 7th and 8th seeds aren’t out of reach at all. The area to look at when predicting who might grab those last two playoff spots is the remaining schedule of each team. The Bucks, sitting at 10th, unfortunately, have the hardest remaining schedule out of the teams I listed. They face the Celtics twice away. They play Golden State, Clippers, and the Grizzlies away. They also play the Hawks and Pacers. The Bulls have the easiest schedule left amongst the 5 teams.
Chicago only plays three western conference playoff teams and they’re all in Chicago. Chicago has a pretty decent home record with 19-12. Miami has a pretty tough schedule only because they play the good Eastern Conference teams for most of their remaining schedule. My prediction is that Chicago will end up making the playoffs and Miami will eventually slide into the playoffs as well. Those teams seem very confident in their ability. The Bulls have two superstars in Wade and Butler. Miami is just plain hot, and don’t look like they plan on cooling down anytime soon. But only time will tell who wanted it the most.