We are down to two. With the Cavaliers holding a 5 game lead over the Celtics(6 in the loss column) with just 9 games to play, the Race for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference is over. Now the Cavaliers are fighting to the #1 seed in the NBA, a distinction that would secure the Cavaliers home court in every round of the playoffs, including the NBA Finals should they make it. Nine games and the Lakers stand in their way.
Cleveland has now won 12-straight games, a team record and has 60 wins on the season(another team record). They also enjoy a 2-game lead over the Lakers in the race for Home Court. The task gets much tougher for the Cavaliers this week as they face 2 road games against teams they have failed to play that well against recently - Washington and Orlando.
Couple that with the fact that those games are played as a back-to-back and it could be a recipe for disaster for the Cavs. Of course, those games are sandwiched between a couple of homes games with Detroit and San Antonio. Not fun.
The Cavaliers need to continue doing what they have been all season long and that is beating teams they should beat. Washington, with Gilbert Arenas back in the lineup, poses match up concerns for the Cavaliers but this season has been all about breaking barriers for the Cavs and a win at Washington would be another. The Cavs avenged a road loss to Atlanta earlier this year, now they need to do the same in Washington and Orlando.
3/31 - Detroit (36-37)
4/02 - @ Washington (17-58)
4/03 - @ Orlando (54-18)
4/05 - San Antonio (48-25)
The Lakers have gone 3-1 each of the last two weeks and actually lost two games in the standings to the Cavaliers. That is how good Cleveland has been since the All-Star break. Like the Cavs, the Lakers play 4 games with the first two finishing a long road trip.
On paper, LA's schedule looks much more favorable, but the Lakers are running out of time and need to keep winning. Phil Jackson has said, however, that getting healthy for the playoffs is much more important than home court and I tend to believe him, at least for his team. As long as they have a shot, however, expect the Lakers to charge hard after the best record.
3/31 - @ Milwaukee (31-43)
4/01 - @ Charlotte (33-40)
4/03 - Houston (48-26)
4/05 - LA Clippers (18-56)