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There is still one month of games to play in the NBA season, and surely nothing is yet set in stone. Nonetheless, it seems as though we can at least narrow the Eastern Conference's top two seeds down to two prospective teams: the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics currently sit two games behind the Raptors, and both have similarly challenging schedules to round off the season's final stretch.

When it is all said and done, clinching the East's number one seed may not be the ideal situation for these teams. It will all come down to where the Cleveland Cavaliers will be slotted, and whether they'll stay put as the conference's third seed or fall to the fourth or fifth spot.

Toronto Raptors (1) 4617.730111.8103.18.12
Boston Celtics (2) 4520.6922.0104.4100.13.96
Cleveland Cavaliers (3) 3726.5879.0110.1109.80.10
Indiana Pacers (4) 3727.5789.5106.4104.80.85
Washington Wizards (5) 3728.56910.0107.1105.51.35
Philadelphia 76ers (6) 3528.55611.0107.9105.72.53
Milwaukee Bucks (7) 3430.53112.5104.7105.1-0.53
Miami Heat (8) 3431.52313.0101.9102.2-0.41
Detroit Pistons (9) 2935.45317.5102.9104.1-1.11
Charlotte Hornets (10) 2837.43119.0106.5107.0-0.11
New York Knicks (11) 2441.36923.0103.8107.1-3.22
Chicago Bulls (12) 2142.33325.0103.1109.4-5.78
Orlando Magic (13) 2044.31326.5105.4109.7-4.25
Atlanta Hawks (14) 2045.30827.0103.6108.2-4.71
Brooklyn Nets (14) 2045.30827.0105.7110.0-4.18

The reason for this is because: no one wants to face the Cavs in the second round of the playoffs! Ideally, they wouldn't meet Cleveland at all on their road to the Finals, but if it must be done, and it most likely will have to be done, then it'd be best to face them in the Eastern Conference Finals, the last round before the Championship Series.

If the Cavaliers stay where they are and end the season as the East's third place team, then they'll be on the same side of the playoff bracket as the second place team. Therefore, the two seed could potentially end up playing the Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs, and the first seed will have an easier road to completing their goal.

Vice versa, if the Cavaliers fall in the rankings to the fourth or fifth seed, then they'll wind up on the same side of the playoff bracket as the East's number one seed. That means that the top overall seed may have their most difficult matchup in the playoff's second round. Not ideal. 

In my personal, genius opinion, the Cavs will stay as the East's third place team, and that's mostly because their schedule to round off the season is an easy one

The Cavaliers have 19 games left to play, and eight of those games will be against teams who have no shot of making it to the playoffs. That's 42% of their remaining games, which will be played against bad teams

The Cavs also won't have to play many good teams for the rest of the season. They'll only face off against five teams who have a win-percentage greater than .550, which totals to 26% of their schedule. 

That's a much lower percentage when compared to their three fiercest conference rivals. In their remaining schedules, the Celtics will play 53% of their games against teams with a greater win-percentage than .550. The Raptors have 40% of their games against those teams, and the Indiana Pacers will end their year by playing those teams in 42% of their remaining games. 

To sum this all up, the Cavaliers have an easy schedule to end the year, where they'll play many bad teams. The Celtics, Raptors, and Pacers have difficult schedules, and will play multiple crucial games against already-established playoff teams. 

I'm predicting that the Celtics won't squander their seven game lead over the Cavs, and similarly, the Raptors won't blow their nine game lead, so those top two seeds aren't in danger. And unless the Pacers play out-of-their-socks good, and the Cavs play ridiculously bad, then that third seed is as good as the Cavs'. 

So, now the battle begins between that Celts and Raps for that number one overall seed, which will be a ticket to avoiding the Cavaliers until the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Let's hope that the Celtics can finish strong. 


Photo: USA Today

Sean Waukewan 3/07/2018 07:06:00 PM Edit
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