The battle for third place in the NBA East is tighter than anyone could have imagined. The Cavaliers, 76ers, and Pacers are crowded together with just one game separating third from fifth. So, can the Cavs hold on?
Cleveland 45-30, 7-3 in their last 10 games
7 games remaining:
At home: Pelicans 43-32, Mavs 23-52, Raptors 55-20, Wizards 41-33, Knicks 27-49
On the road: @Philly 44-30, @NY 27-49
Philadelphia 44-30, 9-1 in their last 10 games
8 games remaining:
At home: Hawks 21-54, Nets 24-51, Cavs 45-30, Mavs 23-52, Bucks 39-35
On the road: @Charlotte 34-42, @Detroit 34-40, @Atlanta 21-54
Indiana 44-31, 7-3 in their last 10 games
7 games remaining:
At home: Warriors 54-20, Hornets 34-42
On the road: @Sacramento 24-51, @Clippers 41-34, @Denver 40-35, @Toronto 55-20, @Charlotte 34-42,
It’s obvious the Pacers have the toughest schedule and should be more worried about holding off the Wizards …. unless they want to slip into sixth place to avoid the 4/5 matchup in the first round of the playoffs which might not be all that bad of an idea.
Washington (41-33) still has to face the Rockets, Cavs and Celtics, so their road isn’t all that easy either.
Between the Cavs and 76ers, who each have 30 losses to this point, the 76ers have the significantly easier schedule and they’ve been red hot since losing to the Pacers two weeks ago. However, it wouldn’t come as that big of a surprise if the winner of their game vs the Cavs at Philips Arena decides who gets third.
The overhanging question about Cleveland’s season will probably be answered by the games against New Orleans, Toronto and Washington immediately before the big game against Philly. If the Cavs don’t take at least two of these three, the game at Philips might just be being played for pride.
If you have to speculate on who will finish third thru fifth in the East, right now it looks like 76ers, Cavs and Pacers in that order. Raptors and Celtics should plan accordingly.