The 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff games start on Saturday, April 15. There’s about a week left in the regular season. The regular season ends next Wednesday, April 12. That’s not a long time for Eastern Conference teams to get it going.
The defending champions: LeBron, Kyrie, K-Love, and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers, didn’t play well in March. The Cavs have left the door wide-open for the Boston Celtics to come in and grab the top spot.
See below for the current standings, the week that was, and what we should look for this week when it comes to the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Race.
2017 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff
** Records are as of April 3
1. Boston Celtics 50-27
2. Cleveland Cavaliers 49-27
3. Toronto Raptors 47-30
4. Washington Wizards 46-31
5. Milwaukee Bucks 40-37
6. Atlanta Hawks 39-38
7. Chicago Bulls 38-39
8. Miami Heat 37-40
Cleveland is a half a game behind Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. This is one season where Cleveland could use any advantage that they can get. Toronto and Washington are battling over the third and fourth seeds. Boston, Cleveland, Toronto, and Washington are the only teams in the Eastern Conference that have secured playoff spots.
Teams that are still alive are Indiana, Charlotte, and Detroit. Teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs are New York, Philadelphia, Orlando, and Brooklyn.
The Week that Was
Boston Celtics – Boston went 2 and 1 straight up this past week. They started out the week by losing 100 to 103 to Milwaukee. They turned it around big time by beating Orlando 117 to 116 and destroying the Knicks 110 to 94.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Things may be looking up for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs had lost three straight before bouncing back with two straight wins.
Check out the losses: Washington 115 to 127, San Antonio 74 to 103, Chicago 93 to 99. The Cavs were strong in their last two games, though. They beat Philadelphia 122 to 105. They took down Indiana 135 to 130 in overtime on April 2.
Toronto Raptors – The Raptors went 3 and 1 both straight up and against the spread in their last 4 games before April 3. Toronto beat Orlando 131 to 112, Indiana 111 to 100, and Philadelphia 113 to 105. The lone loss was to Charlotte 106 to 110.
Washington Wizards – What’s up with the Washington Wizards? They lost all three of their games last week. The Gandalfs blew it versus the Clippers 124 to 133 on March 29. On March 31, Utah beat them 95 to 88. They also didn’t come up with any magic against Golden State on April 2. The Warriors beat Washington 139 to 115.
One thing to note is that Washington lost all three games on the road. That may have something to do with why they played so badly.
Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks stepped it up last week. They beat Charlotte 118 to 108. They also beat Detroit 108 to 105. The lone loss was 105 to 109 to Dallas on April 2.
Without a doubt, the Bucks’ best win last week was beating Boston 103 to 100 on March 29. Boston could get the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The fact that Milwaukee beat the Celtics is a sign that Milwaukee can hang in the East.
Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks did win 2 games last week. They beat the hapless Philadelphia 76’ers 99 to 92 on March 29. They took down the terrible Phoenix Suns 95 to 91 on March 28. But, outside of the wins over the 76’ers and Suns, the Hawks were as bad last week as they’ve been since March 13.
From March 13 to April 2, the Atlanta Hawks have gone 2 and 9 straight up. If there is one team in the Eastern Conference on the cusp of getting knocked out of the playoffs this week, it’s Atlanta.
Chicago Bulls – As of April 2, the Bulls have won 4 straight. They beat Milwaukee 109 to 94 on March 26. On March 30, they beat Cleveland, they took down Atlanta on March 4, 106 to 104, before beating the New Orleans Pelicans 117 to 110 in the Bayou.
Chicago proved in the 99 to 93 win over the Cavs that they can beat you by playing tough defense. They proved against the Pelicans that they can also beat you by running up and down the court.
Miami Heat – Miami is in danger of losing the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs because they won 2 games last week before losing 2 games. That’s not good. What’s troublesome about the Heat is that they beat the New York Knicks 105 to 88 on March 29 in New York before, inexplicably, losing to New York at home on March 31. What the hell was that? How do you lose 94 to 98 to New York at home? I looked into the game and, yeah, I have no idea, either.
Most Important Games this Week
Wednesday, April 5
Miami at Charlotte
Charlotte has a shot to get into the playoffs. It would help the Hornets’ cause if they could beat 8th seeded Miami on Wednesday. Miami must prove that they belong.
Cleveland at Boston
Since Cleveland is a half a game behind Boston for the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the importance of this battle is obvious. The Cavaliers have looked great at times. At other times, they seemed destined for a shocking early exit from this year’s playoffs.
Thursday, April 6
Milwaukee at Indiana
Indiana can climb into the 8th spot. Like Charlotte, the Pacers must win as many games as they can from now until the end of the NBA Regular Season. Milwaukee hasn’t yet secured a playoff spot. Now’s not the time for the Bucks to rest on their laurels.
Boston at Atlanta
Atlanta has been awful towards the end of the regular season. Boston must win every game to keep pace with the Cavaliers for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Friday, April 7
Atlanta at Cleveland
The schedule didn’t turn out to favor the Atlanta Hawks, did it? Atlanta plays Boston on Thursday at home. They board a plane to Cleveland after their probable loss versus the Celtics to battle King James and the Cavaliers on Friday. These 2 games in a row could be the death knell for Atlanta’s playoff chances.
Miami at Toronto
Miami had better hope that Toronto rests their starters in this game. If the Raptors are at 100%, even without Kyle Lowry who still has a wrist issue, the Heat are done for.
Saturday, April 8
Boston at Charlotte
Charlotte has a good enough team to make it to the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Facing a team battling for the top spot in the playoffs on Saturday, April 8, won’t help their chances.
Miami at Washington
Miami has yet another important game this week. It makes sense, right? The Heat are in 8th place. Every game in the final week of the NBA Regular Season means something to them.
Sunday, April 9
Cleveland at Atlanta
Cleveland gets another shot to end Atlanta’s chances of making it to the playoffs. I have no faith that the Hawks win this game on Sunday.
Monday, April 10
Cleveland at Miami
Miami might get lucky in this Monday battle. The Cavs could rest their starters if they get enough of a lead over Boston for the top spot in the East. We’ll see.
Charlotte at Milwaukee
Depending on how the games play out before Charlotte and Milwaukee throw down on April 10, this could be the most important game until the Eastern Conference Playoffs start. Make sure to check the standings to see if this game is worth paying attention to.