Latest Updates as NBA Playoff Race Comes Down to the Wire
With only two weeks remaining in the NBA’s regular season, teams are pressing to make their final playoff run. The only team to secure its position is the defending champion Miami Heat, as they’ve locked up the 2013 Eastern Conference regular season title, their first with LeBron James.
There are, however, some interesting races still remaining, like the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers battle for the East’s No. 2 seed. Teams in the bottom half of the East have the potential to shuffle around as well. Three teams are within two games of each other.
The West has a lot to settle regarding its playoff picture too. Oklahoma City and San Antonio are still fighting for possession of the No. 1 seed as the Los Angeles Lakers are scrapping to just make the field.
Here’s how the current playoff race looks and how things can turn out as the season comes down to the wire.
Eastern Conference: No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks
This first-round matchup is just about a lock at this point in the season. The Heat own the No. 1 seed and—barring a collapse from Boston—the Bucks will stay put as the No. 8 seed.
That’s where the good news ends for Milwaukee, as it will need a miracle to take down the champs.
Eastern Conference: No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics will most likely earn the No. 7 seed and in doing so could face rival New York in the opening round.
The Knicks are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, as they’re currently on a season-high nine-game winning streak. With only nine games left on their schedule, the matchup against Indiana on April 14 could be the deciding factor between the two teams’ tie in the standings.
This playoff pairing is one the fans would love to see and probably make for a memorable series.
Eastern Conference: No. 3 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 6 Chicago Bulls
Central division foes are on track to face off again in the first-round of this year’s playoffs. As mentioned, the Pacers can finish as high as the No. 2 seed, but could end up in a series with the Bulls with that result anyway.
Chicago has the chance to move as high as the No. 4 seed, as it's only two games behind Brooklyn. The Bulls will need to improve their play, though, since they’re a mediocre 5-5 in their last 10 outings.
Again, this is another interesting matchup.
Eastern Conference: No. 4 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
Both the Nets and the Hawks have clinched playoff berths, however it’s uncertain if this matchup will happen. Either team’s current seed can change varying between the fourth and sixth seeds.
The final weeks of the season will be crucial for both teams in order to improve their playoff outlook. Atlanta has won two straight games and will need to continue its winning if it wants to gain home-court advantage in the first round.
Western Conference: No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Utah Jazz
The Spurs will end the year with either the West’s No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The Thunder are one game behind San Antonio, and the two teams meet this Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
The Jazz are in a similar fight at the bottom of the conference, as they are in the middle of a clash with the Lakers to acquire the last playoff spot. Both teams are three games over .500 with only seven games to play.
Western Conference: No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 7 Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City will finish as one of the top two seeds unless they have a total falling out. The Thunder are in a solid position to make a return to the finals.
The Houston Rockets are the youngest team in the league and showed a lot of improvement this season. The acquisition of James Harden seems to be paying off as the Rockets have just about clinched their return to the postseason.
If things stay the way they are, this would be an intriguing showdown of superstars and a return trip for Harden back to Oklahoma City, where he started his career.
Western Conference: No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors
The Nuggets have won eight of their last ten and are just cooling down from their 15-game winning streak that came to a halt last week. There’s an outside shot Denver can catch the second-seeded Thunder, but it appears it'll probably be the third seed and face Golden State or Houston.
The Warriors have gotten their winning ways back of late and are currently the No. 6 team in the West. Unfortunately, this is the best they can do for the season.
It will be a close call for both teams’ conclusions to the year, but definitely a high-powered, potential first-round series.
Western Conference: No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
The Clippers were finally able to flip the switch in L.A. this year, becoming the team to beat in the city of angels. Chris Paul’s team sits as the fourth seed right now with the chance to creep up to the third seed.
The Grizzlies are in the same boat with the Clippers except that they have one more game remaining on their schedule.
Both organizations have solidified their playoff berths and will meet once more next week in Memphis to decide their final placement for the 2013 playoffs.