With eight games remaining in the NBA regular season, the Eastern Conference playoff race is coming down the stretch with five teams – Brooklyn, Detroit, Miami, Orlando and Charlotte – fighting for the final three spots and only 2.5 games separating the teams in the bubble pack.
If the playoffs were to begin right now, the Detroit Pistons would have the #6 seed, with the Brooklyn Nets in the #7 seed and the Miami Heat squeezing in with the eighth and final spot in the playoffs.
The Orlando Magic were the hottest team among the group of five playoff hopefuls with six-game winning streak. However, the Detroit Pistons beat the Magic last night to snap their streak and put them back on the outside looking in.
The Brooklyn Nets have become the toast of New York City because the Knicks are terrible. The Knicks are in full-blown tank mode and hoping they can luckbox the #1 pick to select Zion Williamson in the upcoming draft. Meanwhile, their crosstown rivals are prepping for a playoff run.
Eastern Conference Playoff Race
6. Detroit Pistons 38-37
7. Brooklyn Nets 38-38
8. Miami Heat 37-38
Orlando Magic 37-39
Charlotte Hornets 35-39
The Milwaukee Bucks (57-19), with the best record in the NBA, have the inside track to the #1 seed in the East. The Toronto Raptors won 52 games for first-year coach Nick Nurse and they have the #2 seed locked up. The Philadelphia 76ers have the #3 spot secured. Meanwhile the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics are jockeying for the #4 seed because the winner will inevitable gain home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
Currently In: BKLYN, The Big D, and Heat
The Brooklyn Nets are the feel-good story of the year right now. D’Angelo Russell finally blossomed into the player that everyone expected him to be with the Lakers. Russell leads the Nets with 20.9 points and 7.0 assists per game. He’s one of the favorites for the NBA Comeback Player of the Year.
The Nets are finishing off one of their most difficult stretches of the season with seven consecutive road games. They have been on the road for over two weeks and cannot wait to sleep in their beds from the first time since early March. They dropped their final game of the road trip against Ben Simmons and the Sixers. The Nets finished their swing 2-5, but they still managed to hold on to a playoff spot.
The Pistons dropped six out of their last nine games coming into last night’s game against the Orlando Magic. The Pistons came up with a huge win and they stopped the Magic’s win-streak. The victory kept the Pistons in a playoff spot, while the Magic fell out of the #8 seed.
The Pistons have a couple of tough games ahead of them against Portland and Oklahoma City, plus a home-and-home with the Indiana Pacers next week.
Dwayne Wade is coming off the bench in his final season with the Miami Heat before he retires. D-Wade would love to make the postseason one final time. The Heat have a tough fight ahead of them. Five of Miami’s final seven games are scheduled against teams headed to the playoffs.
Miami boasts one of the best defenses in the NBA. The Heat allow only 105.9 points per game, which is third-best in the NBA. They also won ten out of their last 14 games to put themselves into a position to snatch up the final playoff spot.
On the Bubble: Orlando Magic and Buzz City
Miami, Orlando, and Charlotte are fighting for the Southeast division title. Two of them, Charlotte and Orlando, are on the bubble while Miami is in first place by a mere half-point and currently in one of the playoff spots.
Charlotte won four games in a row. Buzz City is buzzing about an actual playoff appearance. It would be a great treat for fans to watch the Greek Freak in action, even though they will most likely get steamrolled in the opening round.
Charlotte’s final game of the season is against Orlando. That could determine the fate of the Southeast. Both teams would like to secure their postseason fate well before that game.
The Orlando Magic appeared to be peaking at the right time. They ran off six-straight wins after losing four out of five games. Alas, their streak was thwarted with a loss against the Pistons last night. Orlando’s fate is in their own hands. The Magic have two tough upcoming games against playoff teams, but then face the Knicks and then Atlanta Hawks and Trae Young next week.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Milwaukee Bucks are 5/1 odds to win the NBA championship. The Golden State Warriors are the favorites at -230.