The focus now shifts to the Eastern Conference. With three teams still vying for the final playoff position it could all change in an instant. For now, it is occupied by the Miami Heat who have a chance to defend their position against the chasing Orlando Magic this week.
The current matchups make for some interesting chances for some teams to shape their own playoff destiny.
1. Milwaukee Bucks vs 8. Miami Heat
The Bucks are edging ever closer to cementing the top spot in the East, and are currently scheduled to face the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The two teams have only met once in the playoffs and that was when the Miami Heat swept the Bucks en route to LeBron’s second championship.
In the regular season, the Bucks dropped the first game in the season series but have since won three straight against the Heat. Having been the team to set the pace in the Eastern Conference they will expect to win in the first round no matter who they face out of the possible teams fighting for that final spot.
2. Toronto Raptors vs 7. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have won the two previous playoff series against the Raptors most recently winning in seven games in the 2014 First Round. That was before Kawhi Leonard joined the Raptors and has since help power the Raptors to the current second seed in the Conference and seemingly primed for the postseason.
The Raptors also currently hold a 2-1 regular season lead, and with one game left to play between the two teams the Raptors would like to cement their advantage over their prospective postseason opponents. The Raptors will feel confident heading into the postseason and expect them to advance to the second round if they take on the Nets.
3. Philadelphia 76ers vs 6. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have dominated in the postseason when they have taken on the 76ers having won three of their four playoff series. With their only loss coming in 1955 when the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals. Over the course of their four series, the Pistons hold a 15-9 record in all of the games.
However, it has been the 76ers who have been the dominant team in the regular season holding a 3-1 season series record. Their only loss this season was in a 132-133 OT game, but since then Philadelphia have been able to establish themselves as the much better team and should be able to carry that through their projected first round matchup.
4. Indiana Pacers vs 5. Boston Celtics
In the playoffs the Boston Celtics currently hold the better record having won three series to Indiana’s two wins. However, the two teams have not faced each other in the postseason since the 2005 Eastern Conference First Round when the Pacers won it in seven.
This season the two teams have played each other at home once and have both won when at home and so expect the team with home court advantage to hold the real power when the postseason comes around. With the current trends in the season it should prove to be a series win for the Indiana Pacers.
By Sonny Cohen
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