In these uncertain times, we know a couple things for sure.
We know Chicago will win the Eastern Conference and take on the Indiana Pacers in the first round. We know Orlando will host Atlanta in another first-round matchup. We know the Spurs are the top team in the West.
After that, we’ve got no idea. Well, we kind of know some things in the East, the West is still as confused as Lindsay Lohan. So we’ll start our breakdown out East.
We told you already it’s Chicago vs. Indiana and Orlando vs. Atlanta for sure. The other two matchups are almost set in the East, but with the way teams in this conference go on losing streaks nothing is certain.
Miami’s win over Boston on Sunday means the Heat control their own destiny — win out on the road at Atlanta and Toronto and they are the No. 2 seed. At 56-24, they are one game up on the 55-25 Celtics. However, Boston owns the tiebreaker, so if the Heat slip and the Celtics sweep the Wizards and the Knicks, then Boston slides into the No. 2 seed.
Who might they face? The Knicks are one game up on the 76ers for the No. 6 seed, a lead they kept with their dramatic win Sunday night. New York also owns the tiebreaker. So, the only way the Sixers pass the Knicks is for New York to lose out — possible against Chicago and Boston — and Philly to win out (Orlando and Detroit).
Basically, expect Boston vs. New York and Miami vs. Philadelphia to be the other two Eastern Conference series, but it’s not set in stone yet.
We know the Spurs are the top seed. We know little else.
After dropping five straight, the Lakers have fallen into a tie with Mavericks for the No. 2 seed at 55-25, but the Lakers hold the tiebreaker. Oklahoma City, after beating L.A. on Sunday, is just one game back (54-26). The Lakers still own the tiebreaker over the Thunder, but the Thunder own the tiebreaker over the Mavericks. So, any of these teams can finish two-to-four.
The Lakers finish with the Spurs, then Kings; Dallas finishes with Houston, then New Orleans; the Thunder finish with the Kings, then Bucks.
The bottom half of the West is just as messy. The issue here is most teams are doing everything they can to avoid the Lakers, and if they can swing a date with Dallas they’ll take it.
Denver should be the No. 5 seed, they are two games clear of everyone, so just one more win (over Golden State or Utah) and they are locked in at the five.
Portland (47-33) is currently sixth and one-game ahead of Memphis and New Orleans, who are tied for seventh at 46-34. The real test here is the Tuesday night game between Memphis and Portland, a game that will go a long way toward deciding who finishes where. The tiebreak options between the three teams are too numerous to explain, but if the standings finish like this the Hornets would have the tiebreaker on Memphis. New Orleans has the tiebreaker if all three teams finished tied as well.
So there you go. By the end of Monday we may have a few more clear matchups set. Maybe.