With 10 games to go, here's a look at the standings in the Eastern Conference:
So, how will the Sixers finish? Who will they play in the first round? Let's take a gander:Cleveland's remaining schedule
: @ Detroit, vs. Philadelphia, @ Charlotte, vs. Chicago, vs. Orlando, vs. New Jersey, @ Chicago, vs. Miami, @ Philadelphia, vs. DetroitBest record:
47-35 (wins vs. Philly, Charlotte, Chicago x2, NJ, Miami and Detroit)Worst record:
43-39 (wins vs. Chicago, Charlotte, Miami)Probable:
Eventually, you have to believe LeBron is going to realize home court is at stake and he'll turn it on. The only problem is that he's had it turned on pretty much the entire year, the team surrounding him is just horrible.Washington's remaining schedule
: @ Sacramento, @ LAL, @ Utah, vs. Milwaukee, vs. Miami, @ Chicago, vs. Boston, @ Detroit, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Indiana, @ Orlando.
43-39 (wins vs. Sacramento, Milwaukee, Miami, Chicago, Philly and Indiana)
40-42 (wins vs. Milwuakee, Miami, Indiana)
The Wizards have proven they can beat anyone on any given night. They can also lose to anyone. I think the key to the rest of their season is going to be Gilbert Arenas's return. Honestly, I think they'd be better off if Arenas just sat out the rest of the season. They've done a good job of getting along without him and I think his gunning will hurt them in some of the tougher games left on their schedule, especially as he tries to knock the rust off.Toronto's remaining schedule
: vs. New York, vs. New Orleans, @ Charlotte, @ Atlanta, vs. Charlotte, @ New Jersey, vs. Milwaukee, vs. New Jersey, @ Detroit, vs. Miami, @ Chicago.
44-38 (wins vs. New York, Charlotte x2, Atlanta, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Miami, Chicago)
41-41 (wins vs. New York, Charlotte, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Miami)
Toronto has the easiest remaining schedule, by far, of all the teams fighting for spots 4-7. Of course, they've also been playing the worst basketball of the group. If they can pull it together, they could challenge for the #4 seed, it wouldn't surprise me. For some reason, though, I think the collapse is going to continue and they'll finish in 7th.
And finally, the Sixers...Remaining Schedule:
- 3/28 - vs. Phoenix
- 3/30 - @ Cleveland
- 4/1 - @ New Jersey
- 4/4 - @ Atlanta
- 4/5 - vs. Atlanta
- 4/9 - vs. Detroit
- 4/11 - vs. Indiana
- 4/12 - @ Washington
- 4/14 - vs. Cleveland
- 4/16 - @ Charlotte
45-37 (wins over Cleveland x2, New Jersey, Atlanta x2, Indiana, Charlotte, Detroit) Worst record:
41-41 (wins over New Jersey, Atlanta, Indiana, Charlotte)Probable:
The Atlanta home-and-home may turn out to be the biggest two-game stretch of the year. Not because Atlanta has any prayer of catching the Sixers, but because it's a tall order to sweep a home-and-home, back-to-back, against a team that's fighting for a playoff spot and the Sixers have had trouble with Atlanta in the past.
There are a couple of things the Sixers have going for them, though. Since February 5th, the Sixers are 10-0 in games decided by 5 points or less. Their fourth-quarter defense gives them a huge advantage over just about every team they'll face from here on out. It's become a matter of keeping it close through three, then shutting them down in the fourth for the win. That's a winning formula, that's a playoff formula.
My prediction? I don't know. Every time I've set a bar for the Sixers over the past month they've jumped right over it. At this point, I'm saying they finish 44-38, with the fifth seed. Cleveland finishes 4th, Toronto 6th, Washington 7th. But check back with me after the game, because if the Sixers can beat the Suns tonight, it's definitely time to redo the math.
Where do you think the Sixers will finish?