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The Race for the 7th and 8th Seed In The Horrid East

by Photo of Ankit Ahuja

5 teams are vying for the bottom two spots in the Eastern Conference Playoff pitcure.

The Race for the 7th and 8th Seed In The Horrid East

If I was to tell you an NBA team was ten games under .500, you would tell me that they aren't making the playoffs.

That, however, is not the case in the Eastern Conference this season. Five teams with winning percentages under .450 are trying to cash in on the final two spots in the playoffs. Currently, the Miami Heat are the 7th seed with a record of 33-38, followed by the Boston Celtics with a 31-40 record. After Boston, this is where things get interesting. The Pacers are tied with Celtics in the standings, but the Nets and Hornets are only half a game back of Boston. 

Despite how mediocre these teams are, the race for the final two playoff spots is quite compelling. Lets take a closer look at each team and their chances to get in. 

Miami Heat

The Heat have the best chance of any team to get in. With a two game cushion, the Heat just have to be steady and play close to .500 basketball. They 11 games left, and five of those teams have a record over .500. Those games will be tough for the Heat, but the most important games will come on April 5th against the Pacers, and April 7th against the Hornets. If they can win those games, the Heat should be able to get into the playoffs. The most crucial thing for Miami is health. Last night against the Celtics, they were without Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside. If Whiteside or Wade miss extended time, the Heat could be in trouble. Both players, though, have said they should be back soon. I think the Heat will finish off the season 6-5 and end up being the 7 seed playing LeBron's Cavaliers in the first round. 

Boston Celtics

The Celtics should not be here. After trading their two best players, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, it seemed the Celtics were heading to the lottery. Coach Brad Stevens has been terrific and gotten the best out of his players. With new additions Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder in the fold plus the gelling of incumbent players, the Celtics are in position to make a playoff run. Last night's loss to Miami hurt, but the Celtics schedule is similar to the Heat's. Out of the 11 remaining games, only five come against teams with records over .500. The big games for the Celtics will be against the Hornets on March 30th, and against the Pacers on April 1st. The Celtics are in the driver seat, but will have to hold off three teams in their pursuit of the playoffs. I don't think they will be able to hold off the Pacers when it is all set and done.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers were the best team in the East last season finishing with 56 wins. This season has been a different story. When franchise player Paul George broke his leg in the offseason, he was basically ruled out for the season. But there's a potential that he could return for the stretch run. He could be back this Sunday when the Pacers face the Mavericks. Another thing going for the Pacers is their schedule. Of the 11 they have left, only three are against teams with a winning record. In a span of six days, however, the Pacers play the Nets, Celtics, Hornets, and Heat. Those are the four other teams vying for a spots in the playoffs. Those game are crucial if the Pacers want to get back into the playoffs. Combining George's return, and Indiana's schedule, the Pacers should sneak into the 8th spot in the east.  

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets were a surprise playoff team last year, but this year has been quite unsuccessful. A lot of it has to do with key injuries to players like Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. The team has still somehow held on in the standings and are within striking distance of getting the eight seed. They still have 12 games to play, and six of those come against teams over .500. I don't expect the Hornets to get into the playoffs, mainly because the teams they are chasing are healthier or getting healthier.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have been a complete mess this season. Last year, although it started bad, the Nets ended up winning a playoff series. I don't think that opportunity will come this year. The Nets have been so up and down this season, they have not been able to find any stability whatsoever. Their longest winning streak of the season is three games, and consistency just hasn't been there They have the highest payroll, but players like Deron Williams are having little to no impact. Of the remaining 12 games, seven come up against winning teams, which doesn't bode well for Brooklyn.

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