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Breaking down the seeding chase in the Eastern Conference

Apr 2, 2013, 3:08 PM EDT

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony reacts after making a three-point shot against Boston Celtics during their NBA game in New York Reuters

Unlike their friends in the West, there really is no playoff chase in the East.

The top eight teams are pretty much locked in, starting with Miami as the one seed down to the Bucks, the current eight seed. The Sixers are six games back of the Bucks for that final playoff spot, so while it is mathematically possible Philly makes the playoffs it’s more likely they’ll just keep grumbling about Andrew Bynum and thinking about the lottery.

What’s interesting in the East is the struggle for seeding during the final couple weeks of the regular season.

Top three seeds. Miami has the top spot sewn up, but the battle for the two-seed is a good one.

The Pacers technically have a half-game lead on the Knicks, but Indiana has also played three more games. The Knicks have one less loss as of right now. In addition, both teams are hot right now — New York has won eight in a row, Indiana eight of nine.

The problem for the Knicks is the Pacers have the easier schedule from here on out. Indiana has seven games left, four at home with four against playoff teams. The Knicks have 10 games left, six on the road and seven against playoff teams. The Pacers could essentially be the team posting a good number in the clubhouse and forcing the Knicks to birdie the last hole to beat it. One other question to consider in this fight: Is the three seed better off because they likely the Bulls or Hawks in the first round while the two seed likely gets the Celtics?

This Knicks/Pacers struggle could come down to one game — Sunday, April 14, the Pacers at the Knicks. Head to head. The Pacers have won two of the previous three meetings, win this one and they get the tiebreak. Lose and it and the tiebreak comes down to better record against teams in their conference (currently the Pacers have that edge 30-13 to 30-16).

Four, five, six seeds. The Nets, Hawks and Bulls at all within 1.5 games of each other for the three middle seeds. There is motivation here to get the four seed and the home court in the first round. Also, there is motivation to be at least the five seed — all three of these teams are relatively even and have a legitimate shot to advance if they face each other in the four/five playoff matchup. However, fall to six and you get a tougher task against a Knicks or Pacers.

Seven, eight seed. This is really the battle to avoid the Heat in the first round. Currently the Bucks are 1.5 games back of the Celtics for the seven seed (and no easy matchup, but better than the Heat).

The good news for Boston is they have an easier schedule from here on out — five of their eight games are at home and only three are against playoff teams. The Bucks have six of nine on the road and have five playoff teams. Brian Robb breaks it down in great detail at CelticsHub, but looking at the numbers you’d think the Celtics should hang on to that last spot. Then again, watching them play without Kevin Garnett to anchor their defense, this race  feels a lot more like a toss up.

  1. slevy221 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Dude you gotta proofread this was almost hard to read.

  2. savvybynature - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I hope Boston does somehow fall to the 8th seed. Otherwise, it’s highly unlikely we get to see them play the Heat in a series. Not that I think they’d have much of a chance, but there would certainly be some interesting games/moments.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      I don’t think Boston would beat the Heat, but they would certainly grind them down and take them to 6 or 7, which is something that I do not think the Heat want. Those slugfests can go either way; even with the Heat being vastly more talented (and healthier) than the C’s were in last year’s playoffs, they took them 7, and even blew the series by not clinching in Game 6 with the lead before choking. Then again, logic and reason is lost on almost all Heat “fans” so they think no one has a chance to beat them this year. Keep letting HeatSPN put those ideas in your heads, boys.

      • miamatt - Apr 2, 2013 at 6:21 PM

        You wouldn’t know “logic and reason” if it bit you on the A$$.

        The Celtics didn’t blow last year’s series- Miami took it. There was no chocking in game 6- the best player in the world came out with the intent of giving Boston 0% chance to win, which he did. And Miami was healthier? Bosh missed almost the entire series, and he’s better than any player the Celtics were missing. Dwayne Wade was playing through a knee injury that required surgery, which we know for a fact. And yup, he’s way better than anybody who was injured for Boston.

        The delusion was believeing because that series went 7 was that the Celtics were just a smidge under the Heat. By that logic, the Hawks and Sixers last year- who took the celtics to 6 and 7 games if memory serves, and just a smidge beneath Boston and right there with Miami as well. Reality is that Boston played with tremendous heart, determination, and grit- and pushed Miami to reach a higher level. I would never say there’s no chance Miami could lose. But you are doing an awful lot of chirping based on a nice regular season and a couple of wins that happened 3+ months ago.

  3. Sideline Mob - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    I’m with you, slevy221… rough article. To the point though, I don’t think Boston wants any part of the Knicks after the beating they took the other night. And it’ll be really interesting to see if Indiana can win a playoff series without Granger’s scoring.

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    No such thing as an “easy” schedule. It’s all about matchups, just as it is during the playoffs. 2 vs. 3 doesn’t really matter a whole heck of a lot, because both the Pacers and Knicks have shown that they are capable of beating anyone on the road. However, the only “problem” for the Knicks is the health of their roster. The PROBLEM for the Pacers is that they go as Paul George goes, as they simply cannot score consistently enough otherwise — and everyone in the East playoffs has someone to hold down David West.

  5. mgscott - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Miami losing more than 2 games until the finals would be shocking.

  6. asublimeday - Apr 2, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Wow the bulls would absolutely kill the Knicks. The Knicks are the most mentally weak, least team-oriented team in the league. Bulls are the opposite.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      The Bulls still can’t score. And last I checked, you have to do that in order to win. Let Noah try his BS with Kenyon Martin in there to help Chandler and see where it gets him.

  7. ramblingalb - Apr 2, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    *The key game could be one game — Sunday, April 14, the Pacers at the Knicks. Head to head.*

    That wrote good.

  8. asublimeday - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    Let Melo try his softie game on a real defense.

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