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L.A. Lakers, Miami Heat: Who Is More Likely To Earn a Top Seed in the Playoffs?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IApril 2, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 10:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat posts up Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NBA regular season has entered its final stretch, and as each of the remaining games are played, the seedings for the postseason become a little clearer.

There are only a few details left to be worked out before the playoffs begin, but one of the most compelling appears to be the battle for the top seed in both the Eastern and Western Conference.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are currently in second place in their respective conferences, and both teams have an outside chance of catching the teams ahead of them, although the circumstances of each race are a little different.

The Heat are two games behind the conference-leading Chicago Bulls, but with only six games left to play, it will likely take an historic collapse by the Bulls for the Heat to gain an advantage.

It doesn't help that Miami has already been swept in the season series by the Bulls, which means in order to win the East, the Heat will have to do it outright.

The Heat are certainly playing well enough, as they are 9-2 in their last 11 games, but the Bulls are probably playing their best basketball of the season at this point.

It may be a more reasonable goal for Miami to hold onto the second seed, which could present problems of its own since the Heat are only a half-game ahead of the Boston Celtics.

Miami has also failed to beat the Celtics this season in three games, and its lone remaining meeting could determine who gets the second seed, as long as the Heat are able to finish with a better record than Boston.

In the West the San Antonio Spurs may be experiencing the type of historic collapse the Miami Heat need from the Bulls, and their current six-game losing streak has dwindled their lead over the Lakers to one-and-a-half games.

Two weeks ago, it was nearly impossible to think that the Spurs would relinquish the top seed, but injuries have once again made their presence felt, and the Lakers are playing better than any team in the NBA.

Los Angeles has won 17 out of 18 games, and with seven games left to play, its fourth straight conference championship is certainly within reach.

But if the Lakers really want the No. 1 seed, they will have to take it, because four of their remaining seven games are against playoff teams.

The Lakers still have dates left with Denver, Portland, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, and if they are able to maintain momentum, the final game with the Spurs could be a battle for the top seed.

The Lakers' path to a top seed appears to be a little easier than Miami's, and it helps that not only have the Lakers already won their season series with the third-place Dallas Mavericks, but they have a chance to tie their series with San Antonio if they can win their last meeting.

Both the Heat and Lakers are among the better road teams in the NBA this season, but could the fact that Miami has yet to defeat the top two teams in its conference hold some weight if it does fail to earn the conference's top seed?

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