With less than two weeks remaining until the end of the regular season, I thought it would be wise to check out the remaining schedules of a few teams.
Those teams, the Heat, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and Atlanta Hawks, are all still fighting for position; the Heat and Pacers for the first, and the Knicks and Hawks for the eighth seed.
Miami leads the Pacers by a few percentage points, while the Hawks own a one-game lead over the Knicks. Whoever ends up with the one seed will play either Atlanta or New York, while the second seed earns a date with Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats.
Let’s take a look at who these four teams have remaining:
In the race for the first seed:
The Miami Heat’s remaining games
4/6 vs New York Knicks (33-44)
4/8 vs Brooklyn Nets (41-34)
4/9 at Memphis Grizzlies (45-31)
4/11 vs Indiana Pacers (53-24)
4/12 at Atlanta Hawks (33-42)
4/14 at Washington Wizards (40-36)
4/16 vs Philadelphia 76ers (17-59)
The Indiana Pacers’ remaining schedule
4/6 vs Atlanta Hawks (33-42)
4/9 at Milwaukee Bucks (14-62)
4/11 vs Miami Heat (52-23)
4/13 vs Oklahoma City Thunder (55-20)
4/16 at Orlando Magic (21-55)
The last three games of the season should be a breeze for the Heat, but their next four games come against playoff teams vying for playoff position. Indiana, meanwhile, gets the benefit of playing the likes of Orlando and Milwaukee.
The Heat and Hawks have reason to play, but the Thunder may have reason to sit their starters that late in the season. The San Antonio Spurs have distanced themselves from OKC in the one spot, while the Los Angeles Clippers are two games back of the second-place Thunder.
Meanwhile, in the race for the final spot in the East, there’s a battle brewing between the regressing Hawks and the surging Knicks. Although Miami should defeat either team in five games or less, the Hawks without Al Horford would be a far more ideal opponent.
The race for the eighth seed between the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks currently features Atlanta with a one-game lead over New York, following their win over Cleveland and New York’s loss to Washington Friday night.
Atlanta Hawks’ remaining schedule:
4/6 at Indiana Pacers (53-24)
4/8 vs Detroit Pistons (27-49)
4/9 vs Boston Celtics (23-53)
4/11 at Brooklyn Nets (41-34)
4/12 vs Miami Heat (52-23)
4/14 vs Charlotte Bobcats (38-38)
4/16 at Milwaukee Bucks (14-62)
New York Knicks’ remaining schedule
4/6 at Miami Heat (52-23)
4/11 at Toronto Raptors (44-32)
4/13 vs Chicago Bulls (44-32)
4/15 at Brooklyn Nets (41-34)
vs Toronto Raptors (44-32)
So, about the New York Knicks getting that final eight spot. Although the Hawks are playing two more games than New York, and the Knicks get a five-day break in between their games vs. the Heat and Raptors, they also don’t have to play five motivated playoff teams to end their season.
The Heat, Raptors, Bulls and Nets are all playing for seeding.
While the Hawks still have to play Indiana, Miami and Brooklyn, they’re also gifted with games against teams that have been looking forward to the lottery for months; teams like Boston, Detroit and Milwaukee.