Apr 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of NBA playoffs logo during game two of the first round of the NBA playoffs the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs: Potential East Matchups

With the regular season winding down tonight, NBA teams will be looking ahead to the playoffs.  Golden State locked down the No. 1 seed and homecourt throughout the playoffs, and the rest of the West is pretty set.  The East on the other hand is a much different story.  With a race for the top spot and a battle for the bottom seeds, the playoff picture isn’t quite clear.  Here’s a look into the potential East matchups:

Who’s Number 1?

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Boston Celtics hold the top seed, but the reigning champs aren’t far behind.  The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their spot when they fell to Miami in overtime on Monday.  With Monday’s win against the Nets, the Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division title and moved one game ahead of the Cavs.  If Boston wins tonight’s game against the Bucks or if the Cavs fall to the Raptors, the Celtics secure their top seed.  With Lebron expected to sit out due to a calf injury for the final game against Toronto, the odds are in Boston’s favor.

If the playoffs started today, it would be the Celtics vs. the bottom seed, which is still to be determined.

Locked In

Seeds three, four, and five are spoken for.  The No. 3 position goes to the Toronto Raptors, the Washington Wizards hold the No. 4 spot, and the Atlanta Hawks clinched the fifth seed with a win over Charlotte on Tuesday.

With those three locked, it is guaranteed that the Wizards will face the Hawks in a first round matchup.

Bottom Racers 

Apr 10, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) drives to the basket as Cleveland Cavaliers forward Derrick Williams (3) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 124-121 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Three teams are in a battle for the final two spots: Chicago, Indiana, and Miami.

Of the three, Chicago seems to have the easiest path to the playoffs.  A win tonight over the Brooklyn Nets guarantees them a playoff berth.  The Nets have the worst record in the NBA and announced they will sit six of their players for their season finale.  However, they are coming off a 107-106 win over the Bulls.

Indiana and Miami will likely compete for the final spot.  Both teams will face opponents who have already clinched their spot in the postseason and therefore will probably rest some of their starters.  Indiana will face Atlanta, and the two sides have split their two meetings this season.   Miami should play confidently against the Wizards after defeating the defending champs on Monday night, and sweeping Washington this season.  Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra says he is excited his team is still playing with purpose.

If all three teams win tonight, Miami will be knocked out.

Tonight’s games will determine the fate of the East for seeds 6-8.  Each of these games start tonight at 8.

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