The battle for the final two seeds in the Eastern Conference just got a little less crowded. With the Hornets’ 104-80 loss to the Hawks and the Celtics’ 99-90 win over the Cavs, Charlotte has officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
It’s been a disappointing year for the Hornets, who had hoped to build on last year’s surprise playoff run. They made moves in the offseason that seemed to put them on the right track, particularly the signing of Lance Stephenson. (I predicted 44 wins at the start of training camp.) But Stephenson has been a disaster, and injuries to Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist derailed their playoff hopes even in the weak Eastern Conference.
The Celtics’ win keeps them in the driver’s seat for the seventh seed. They’re tied with the Nets, who have the eighth seed. The Pacers, after beating the Pistons 107-103 on Friday, are one game out of the playoffs. The Heat trail by two games for the eighth seed.