Mar 7, 2012, 8:04 AM EDT
If the NBA playoffs started today, Philadelphia would be the Atlantic Division winners and four seed taking on the Pacers. Boston and New York would be the seven and eight seeds and get the Bulls and the Heat in the first round.
Boston and New York need to move up — and the easiest way to a good seed is suddenly to jump past the slumping Sixers. Philadelphia has won just two of its last 10 games, it’s offense that shot 44.6 percent on the season has shot just 41.2 percent in the last 10. On the other side, All-Star weekend rest and trade rumors have fueled Boston to a five game winning streak — they are just one game back of Philly now. The Knicks are not out of it, either, just three and a half games back.
Wednesday night Boston travels to take on Philadelphia — a Celtics win and despite the slow start, swirling trade rumors and everything else Boston will be tied for the division lead.
It matters. A lot. Win the Atlantic and you can be no lower than a four seed. Finish second in the division and it could be very tough to get out of the first round.
“This is definitely a division rival that we are going to have to overtake, and seeing as it’s going to be important going into the playoffs,” said Paul Pierce.
Right now Boston is the hot team, but it is not impossible to imagine the Knicks putting a run together and getting in this mix either.
In the NBA where seeding is done by conference usually winning the division is not that big a deal. But the Atlantic division this year could be different. Which makes this mid-season tilt in Philadelphia very interesting on Wednesday night.
- Cavaliers sold Kyrie Irving on contract extension with LeBron James-Kevin Love plan 32
- Kevin Love says Timberwolves owner should focus on his own team following trade to Cavaliers 32
- Iman Shumpert excited to play in triangle offense because he won’t just have to stand in the corner 6
- Timberwolves owner: Kevin Love might regret trade because he’ll be third banana with Cavaliers 48
- Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried lead Team USA in final World Cup tune-up 20
- Thunder trade Hasheem Thabeet to 76ers 37
- From late-arriving to a LeBron James favorite, Kevin Love comes full circle 17
- Clippers trade Jared Dudley and first rounder to Bucks for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica 23