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Peripheral Vision - Tuesday Night's NBA Action

BIG win last night for the short-handed Cavaliers.  It saves us a lot of worrying down the road, especially in the race for home-court advantage.

We here at FTS are keeping our eyes all over the league, watching the races that are important to the Cleveland Cavaliers, both in the race for top seed and to see who will earn the 8th seed and become our first-round opponent.  Tonight, there's a LOT of action that will shuffle things around in our world.

Follow us below the fold and we'll get started.

First, let's look at the race for the best record in both the Eastern Conference and the NBA

Cleveland 50 15 ---
Orlando 44 20 5.5
Boston 40 21 8.0
Atlanta 40 23 9.0


This race is nearly over, but anything can happen in this league, so we should take a look over our shoulder and see what's happening behind us.  here's the relevant games;

L.A. Clippers at Orlando, 7pm EST - The Magic are too good to overlook the Clippers, but this game is still a trap game for them.  They've managed to get through a tough stretch, and you never know if they'll relax for a lightweight.  I say no, but let's watch anyway.

Boston at Milwaukee, 8pm EST - The Bucks are one of the two or three hottest teams at the moment, and the Celtics are struggling to stay relevant among the elite teams in the NBA.  If the Bucks pull off the win, it will go a long way towards their confidence heading into the playoffs, which they will surely be a part of this season.

As for the NBA lead?

Cleveland 50 15 ---
L.A. Lakers 46 18 3.5


The tiebreaker falling for the Cavaliers is making this race a lot more distant than it seems.  L.A. is going to have to win at least 16 of their final 18 games if they want to pass us.  But they should focus more on Dallas, who is sneaking up on them right now.

Toronto at L.A. Lakers, 1030pm EST - The Lake Show is reeling from 3 straight losses, and a balanced Raptors team might not be their cure.  Toronto is batting for the fifth seed in the East and will not take this game lightly.  they NEED the win, as do the Lakers.  This might be the best game of the night.

As for our potential first-round opponents?  Here's the race for the lower half of the Eastern bracket, starting with the 5th seed, working down to the 9th.

Milwaukee 33 29 15.5
Toronto 32 29 16.0
Miami 32 31 17.0
Chicago 31 31 17.5
Charlotte 30 31 18.0


2.5 games separate the 5 from the 9.  There's no predicting this one, but one of the above five teams is getting left out.  That should make for an exciting close to the season.  Here's the important games for this evening, aside from the Toronto/LA and Milwaukee/Boston games listed above.

Miami at Charlotte, 7pm EST - If the Bobcats win, they're back in the top 8.  If Miami wins, they pull a little further away from that dreaded 9th position.  Playoff atmosphere, indeed!

Utah at Chicago, 8pm EST - Another killer game.  Utah is smack in the middle of a race, only 5 games back of the Lakers, with several teams trailing just behind them.  Chicago is trying to stay afloat, on a 4-game skid and fading fast in the race for April.  If the Bulls win, they may save their season.  Fall, and the lights begin to dim ever so slightly.

There it is, folks.  You're all dispatched to your TV sets now.  Go have fun.

Oh, and by the way.  If Charlotte beats Miami tonight, there will be a little "x" next to the Cavaliers name in the standings tomorrow.  We will have officially clinched a playoff berth with a Heat loss.