Eastern Conference Playoff Picture Shaping Up
Three weeks and roughly 12 games left in the NBA regular season; that’s it. Here’s a look at how the Eastern Conference is currently stacked up from first seed to eighth:
The Bulls are a half-game ahead for first place and home court but if they tied, the C’s hold the top spot thanks to the tie breaker. With 12 games left, that could really go either way between these two teams. If we’re lucky it will be back forth to the end, similar their seven game playoff series two years ago.
The Heat, in third, are three behind the Bulls for first and three games up on Orlando in fourth. Even though their particular strengths are different, the Magic and Heat are very similar teams. Both are loaded with talent but somehow find a way to play bad for periods of time and lose games they shouldn’t.
If the Heat ended the season as only the three seed in the East, the regular season would have to be considered shockingly bad. How many announcers did we hear prior to the season, post “The Decision”, say the Heat would legitimately challenge the Bulls record season of 72-10 in 95-96? Who knows, I can’t count that high, but a “s#!@load” would be an acceptable answer to be sure. Point is, they won’t even win 60 games this year. And it just doesn’t feel like they are worthy of challenging for the #1 seed, even though mathematically they certainly can.
Curious Atlanta sits in fifth place, and we still have no real idea what this team’s identity is. They keep doing just enough to win, the way Wanda Sykes keeps doing just enough to keep getting rehired for sitcoms, inexplicably. The way they’ve been playing it seems like that’s where they’ll be for the playoffs. Currently they are five behind Orlando and four in front of the Sixers.
Philadelphia is an interesting team because they’re similar to the Hawks in that seven or eight guys get 20 minutes a game. But if they had to play the Heat in the first round as they are currently aligned, they would get chewed up. There is just no way they could match up with them.
The Knicks are a game behind the 76ers in the seventh spot. Talent wise, everyone knows who is better. It seems like we’ve been waiting all season for the Knicks to turn the corner and they just haven’t for whatever reason. Is D’Antoni on the hot seat? Isaiah’s always on the prowl….One good thing Knicks fans; if the seedings stayed this way, we’d be in store for a Celtics vs. NYK first round matchup.
In the eighth and final spot, the Pacers are just hanging out, nine games under .500, happy to be there just like Gary Busey at any Hollywood party he gets invited to. You don’t know what the Pacers have done right to still be relevant at this point, but like Busey, they are.
So what's up Heat fans? Is this season a disappointment? Feeling ripped off by Pat Riley somehow? Same for the Knicks fans; who do you blame? Bulls fans, who deserves the credit?
(Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison])