With the top five spots in the east being pretty much locked up outside of the four and five seeded Celtics and Pacers potentially switching spots. This leaves the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and Brooklyn Nets all vying for the final three spots in the playoffs with only 2.5 games separating the five teams. Currently the Brooklyn Nets are sixth, the Detroit Pistons are seventh, and the Magic are the eight seed. Here are my predictions for the final three spots of the conference with less than two weeks remaining in the season.
Detroit Pistons- Sixth Seed
Final Record: 42-40
Remaining games: ORL, POR, @IND, IND, @OKC, CHA, MEM, NY
The Pistons are a different team against good teams and against bad teams. The Pistons look like the All-star team against the basement dwellers of the league while they look like a high school team against full strength playoff teams. The game vs. the Magic tonight is one of the most important games for the Pistons who are all in on their “#PlayoffPush” they use in all of their social media posts. The Pistons should go either 5-3 or 6-2 in their final eight games with the losses coming to the Thunder, and one or both of the games vs. the Pacers.
Brooklyn Nets- Seventh Seed
Final Record: 41-41
Remaining games: @PHI, BOS, MIL, TOR, @MIL, @IND, MIA
While the Nets have bested themselves over the Pistons winning the season series 1-2. That being said, the Nets have a brutal schedule the rest of the year with six of their seven games against teams who have already clinched playoff berths. The Nets would go 1-6 on paper but the recent play of D’Angelo Russell makes me think that the Nets will go 3-4 winning games against Miami, Boston, and Indiana.
Orlando Magic- Eighth Seed
Final Record: 40-42
Remaining games: @DET, @IND, @TOR, NY, ATL, @BOS, @CHA
Orlando is looking to make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons which is the longest in franchise history. Nikola Vucevic is playing at a borderline all-star level this season to carry the Magic to a certain defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in a likely sweep. The Magic look set to go 3-5 the final eight games with wins coming against the Knicks, Hawks, and Hornets.
Charlotte Hornets- Ninth Seed
Final Record: 39-43
Remaining Games: @LAL, @GS, @UTAH, @NO, TOR, @DET, @CLE, ORL
As we have known for years, Kemba Walker is a beast in the month of March. The Hornets are on a four-game winning streak and look to carry that into the dumpster fire that is the Los Angeles Lakers. They also have a hard schedule and I will predict a record of 4-4 with the Hornets defeating the Lakers, Jazz, Pelicans, and Cavaliers. The game against Orlando has been moved to ESPN as the eight seed in the playoffs could be decided on the final game.
Miami Heat- Tenth Seed
Final Record: 39-43
Remaining games: DAL, @NY, @BOS, BOS, @MIN, @TOR, PHI, @BKN
The Heat have been hovering around .500 all season and are still around that mark currently. It would be emotional to see Dwyane Wade making the playoffs in his final season but that’s quite unlikely with Miami on the outside looking in on the eighth seed. The Heat will go 3-6 or 4-5 with wins against the Mavericks, Knicks, Timberwolves, and maybe one of the games vs. Boston.