This Week In The Race For The Eastern Conference Playoffs- March 5-11

The playoff push in the Eastern Conference has started to heat up as 5 teams are within 2.5 games of the 6th playoff spot in standings. So lets take a look at the upcoming week for the teams fighting for the playoffs in the East.

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Detroit Pistons- Tied for 6th Place- 31-31

Schedule:

  • Minnesota- 3/5
  • at Chicago- 3/8
  • Chicago- 3/10
  • at Brooklyn- 3/11

Outlook:

The Pistons are in the drivers seat for the 6th spot in the conference as they hold a slight lead over the Nets because of the fact that they have had played less games than the Nets who are behind them.

With 4 games in the next 7 days, the Pistons have their work cutout for them. Before the big game on next Monday night in Brooklyn, the Pistons have 3 games they are supposed to win. Minnesota at home on Tuesday night, who have lost 3 games in a row as they are sliding out of the Western Conference playoff race. Chicago in a home and home set of games over the weekend.

Detroit has won 8 of their last 10 games, have to be able to withstand this week and order to potentially make some kind of separation.  Because that game on Monday night in Brooklyn is the second game of a back to back.

Projection of Record– 3-1 (Tired legs will get to the Pistons who’s 5 game winning streak will end in Brooklyn)

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Brooklyn Nets- Tied for 6th Place- 33-33

Schedule:

  • Cleveland- 3/6
  • at Atlanta- 3/9
  • Detroit- 3/11

Outlook:

Brooklyn just won on Monday night against Dallas and they have 2 other games this week against teams that are fighting for lottery position. After these two games, the Nets only have 2 games left with teams under .500.

The good news is that the Nets are a combined 4-1 against the Cavaliers and Hawks and they get 2 full days off in between both games.

The bad news is that before the Dallas game, the Nets had lost 3 of their last 4 games against sub .500 teams.They should win all 3 games this week, especially since they will catch Detroit at home after a back to back and playing their 3rd game in 4 nights.

Prediction: 3-0 (No back-to-backs and days off in between games will help Brooklyn to an undefeated week)

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Orlando Magic- 8th Place- 30-35

Schedule:

  • at Philadelphia- 3/5
  • Dallas- 3/8
  • at Memphis- 3/10

Outlook:

Orlando has been one of the hottest teams in the entire league since the end of January. The Magic have won 10 of their last 14 games. They have beaten some of the best teams in the entire league (Golden State, Toronto and Milwaukee), but 3 of those losses have been to teams with under 20 wins a piece (Chicago, Cleveland and New York).

The good news is that they will play Philadelphia without Joel Embiid on Tuesday, so that could mean another victory over a team that is headed for the playoffs. Dallas and Memphis look like games they should win, but the way the Magic have performed in games they were supposed to win makes things a bit interesting.

Prediction: 2-1 (Orlando will somehow lose to either Dallas or Memphis)

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Charlotte Hornets- Tied for 9th Place- 29-34

Schedule:

  • Miami- 3/6
  • Washington- 3/8
  • at Milwaukee- 3/9
  • at Houston- 3/11

Outlook:

Hornets fans have seen all types of frustration over the last 2 weeks.

  • The Controversial no call at the end of the Brooklyn game
  • The 11-0 run that Houston put on them at home in the 4th quarter that caused a Rockets victory
  • Rodney Hood scoring 21 points in the 4th quarter on Sunday in the loss against the Trail Blazers

Now this week, the Hornets have 2 critical games at home (Charlotte is 20-13 at home) against teams that are fighting to make the playoffs. The Miami game on Wednesday at home is the most important. With both teams tied in the standings, a win on Wednesday will give the Buzz the all important tie-breaker against the Heat. A win would give the Hornets a season series victory over the Heat with one final game against them on March 17th.

They also play the Washington Wizards (who are on life support in the playoff) on Friday on the front end of a back to back. If they can win those games and split the games between Milwaukee and Houston, it will be a successful week in Charlotte.

Prediction: 2-2 (Charlotte will split the Miami/Washington set and take one of the games on the road)

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Miami Heat- Tied for 9th Place- 29-34

Schedule:

  • at Charlotte- 3/6
  • Cleveland- 3/8
  • Toronto- 3/10

Outlook:

The timing of Dwayne Wade’s great stretch of games couldn’t be more perfect as the Heat have now found themselves right back in the playoff hunt. Wade is averaging 17.3 points, 4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a block and steal per game in the last 4 games. Miami has won 3 of those 4 games and have gotten themselves into a tie for the final playoff spot.

Miami will need Wade’s play to continue as they will play 2 teams that are ahead of them in the standings and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami can’t afford to lose on Wednesday, because a loss in in Charlotte will give the Hornets the season series tie-breaker. So getting Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside back and playing in that game will be critical in trying to beat Charlotte on the road.

They get Toronto on a front-end of a back-to-back and could not have to match-up against Kwahi Leonard. (Toronto is playing 3 games in a 4 night spot this week)

Prediction: 2-1 (Miami will win in Charlotte and at home against Cleveland, but the game in Toronto doesn’t look as promising.)

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