Last night's games began to clear the skies a little for the upcoming playoff pairings, and in two cases, not only did the skies begin to clear but the sun burst through and showed two playoff match-ups now set in stone.
There may not be jubilation along the Lake Erie shores for a Miami win in Philadelphia last night, but I am inclined to be ecstatic about it. Why? Because the Heat, by virtue of winning, locked Charlotte into the seventh seed in the East...ergo, the first eastern conference playoff pairing is etched in stone, and it involves Nemesis I vs. Nemesis II...or, more precisely, Orlando vs. Charlotte.
Now some might say: "oh let us play them both in the playoffs, erase their feeling that they have our number." Wellllll....I would rather not, thank you, I think it will be just as right as rain if we see either the Bobcats or the Magic in the ECF and beat them, but until then, and especially in the first two rounds as we try to get Shaq back in the groove, I for one am thrilled that we will never have to face them both.
Miami is now a game ahead of Milwaukee, and if they win their next game, or if Milwaukee loses their next game, Miami takes the five seed, and plays either Atlanta or Boston. If Boston loses tonight, then Atlanta clinches the three seed. If the Celtics win tonight, then it all comes down to the last day for the battle for the three seed, and Atlanta would then, if Boston also wins tomorrow, have to beat the Cavaliers to finish third.
Toronto gummed up the works last night by winning and it is now certain that the Cavs will not know their first-round opponent until tomorrow night. Chicago wins the eight spot by winning their last two games, but if they lose one, and Toronto wins their final game, then the Raptors will sneak into the playoffs. Toronto also gets in if Chicago loses their final two games, and with those games being against Boston and then Charlotte, nothing is certain, although I am guessing that the Bobcats will majorly rest players tomorrow night since they now are assured of finishing seventh.
Without getting into detail again about the West...I did enough of that in my first "April Madness" post...one spot was decided last night. Oklahoma City, with their loss to Portland, is guaranteed to finish eighth and get a first-round match-up with the Lakers. The rest of the West is still wide, wide open.
Why should we really care about the West at this stage? I care because I am an optimist, and I truly think Cleveland is going to be hosting the first game of the NBA Finals in a few weeks. Okay, Mariner, you might say,but why are you so concerned with playoff positioning out there?
I just have a feeling, a hunch really, that Oklahoma City is going to pull a Golden State vs. Dallas from a few years ago on the Lakers, and also...I really think any of the eight playoff teams in the West is capable of reaching the Finals. Thus it is of interest to see who the first four teams will be who bow out, and then the next two, and then the final one, and will thus not be able to face the Cavaliers and have to hear the echoes in their visiting locker room when the fans are going crazy at the Q sometime in June and the Cavs are celebrating Cleveland's first championship since December 27, 1964.
But that's just me.