Four of the top five NBA teams in the East are currently on winning streaks The only team not on a streak would be the Toronto Raptors who hold the number-one seed as of today. No team is hotter than Philadelphia with a 10-game winning streak. Boston's streak is second, winning the last six games.

The Celtics currently hold the second seed, but the 3rd, 4th and 5th spots get dicey (Cleveland, Philadelphia, Indiana, respectively). Boston has a slight chance to overtake Toronto for the number-one spot, but they certainly have a tight hold on the second seed.

The Cavaliers are the wild card here. It is not the fact that they have won three in a row. It is the fact that they have Lebron James. If the playoffs started today, Boston would take on LeBron's Cavaliers in the second round, assuming both teams came out of round one. The Celtics have lost two of their three games against the Cavaliers this season. Count me as a sports writer in total awe of The King as an NBA player. He has unbelievable genetics, the most complete and effective conditioning program for an NBA player I have ever researched, an injury-free history, and he seems to be able to win games and Championships almost single-handedly.

If Boston moves into the number-one spot in the East, and both teams survived round-one, they would take on Philadelphia in round two. Boston owns the season-series versus the 76'ers 3-1, but Philly is on a roll right now. They have won 10 in a row and are a different team. In this same scenario, Cleveland would go against Toronto in the second round, and they seem to have the Raptors' number. Here is what happened in the March 21, 2018 Raptors/76'ers contest (via NBA.com):

The Cavs were down five rotational players and coach Tyronn Lue, who missed his second straight game for health reasons.

But they still had James, who earlier in the day said, "I'll be available, so we got a chance."

"I'll be available, so we got a chance" was The King's extremely-understated comment about the impending game. He certainly was available, and here is the outcome of that game, a 132-129 Cleveland victory (via NBA.com):

The last time the teams played, James had 35 points, 17 assists and no turnovers. No one had done that since the NBA started keeping track of turnovers in 1977-78.

A total of 35 points, 17 boards and zero - yes, zero turnovers. So this is my point. Boston taking over the number one spot means a possible clash with a steamrolling Philadelphia team and Cleveland eating up Toronto as an appetizer prior to possibly meeting the Celtics in the Eastern Finals.

Match-ups in the playoffs can be critical. The better chances are that Boston retains the second seed and plays either Cleveland or Philadelphia (if Philly takes the third seed away from Cleveland) in round two. Either team would be a handful, but I feel Boston would be better off battling the 76'ers, hopefully coming away victorious, and getting some battered players back for the Eastern Conference Finals. Anything can happen in the NBA playoffs, and we are close to seeing it all unfold.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Sue Ogrocki/AP

Tom Lane 4/03/2018 07:22:00 AM Edit
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