Remember last year and all the slurs visited and revisited upon the Eastern Conference?
If we know anything about professional sports and its cyclic nature, it’s that the familiar pep talk of waiting your turn applies to almost everybody. As Mark Twain once wrote, “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” And so here we are in the East. Three teams have 30 losses: Atlanta, Boston and Miami. One team will not get home court and will have a much tougher road into the second round. As the last ten games and two weeks play themselves out in the NBA, it comes down to the schedule, performance under pressure. and mental toughness. Here’s what’s we know.
Matchups, Head to Head
The Hawks host the Celtics on April 9th, game number 80. They lost just one game to Boston this year and that was nearly five months ago, in November, on the road in Boston. The numbers say the Hawks are shooting 50% against the C’s with 27 assists and 7 steals, racking up 107.7 points per game in the process. Not much should change in the Atl. Advantage: Hawks.
The Celtics and their tough end of the season schedule has the last game of the year at home against the Heat and this may determine if the Steven-ites can grab home court advantage in the first round. The Celtics haven’t lost to the Heat this year. 24 assists and 14 steals are the main reason why. The Heat have experience on their side and know how to perform under pressure but the Celtics, on Fan Appreication Night, have everything in their favor. Advantage: Celtics
Matchups, Playoff Teams
The Hawks have 8 games remaining. 4 games are on the road. They have 0 back-to-back games. They play the Cavs twice, once at home and once on the road. They play the Raptors at home. They end the season on the road in Cleveland and Washington. Every game will be important enough to not rest players, a common occurrence last year in their 60 win season. Prediction: 4-4.
The Celtics have the toughest schedule of the three. They have 9 games remaining. 5 are on the road, including a continuation of their west coast trip with the Clippers, Kobe’s last game against the C’s, the Warriors and Blazers. They have one back-to-back. They play two lottery teams in the Pelicans and Bucks, both at home, but end the season with playoff teams (Charlotte, Miami) who are either trying to move up or maintain their spot. Prediction: 4-5.
The Heat have 10 games remaining. They have two sets of back-to-back games. 6 games are on the road, including a three game west trip that includes Wade’s last Kobe matchup and a test in Portland. They play lottery bound Brooklyn and a home and home series against Orlando, but end the year on the road against Detroit who is desperately trying to get in the playoffs, and Boston who wants home court. Prediction: 7-3.
Who’s On the Road in the Playoffs?
Celtics. The schedule is vile.