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NBA standings watch: Cavaliers would play Miami in first round

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If the season ended today, the Cleveland Cavaliers would play the Miami Heat in the first round.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As it stands, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but with only room to move down in the standings. With 12 games to go in the regular season, Cleveland finds itself 10 games behind the Atlanta Hawks in the standings and, barring something unprecedented happening, the Cavs are not going to catch Atlanta.

But the Cavs could drop in the standings. Cleveland is just two games up on the Toronto Raptors for the No. 2 seed - although it turns into three games if you count the tiebreaker the Cavs hold over Toronto - and March 17 on, Toronto has the easiest remaining schedule in the Eastern Conference. It helps that the Cavs have a relatively easy schedule as well - only Toronto and the Chicago Bulls have the easier schedules amongst playoff teams - and play seven of the final 12 games at home.

The No. 2 seed, despite the obvious advantage of having two rounds of home court advantage, could come with some pitfalls. As of today, the East's No. 7 seed is the Miami Heat, the team you wouldn't want to play in the first round if you could pick your opponent. The Heat aren't likely to upset the Cavs in a potential series - the Cavs' loss in Miami was more due to Cleveland's fatigue and Miami coming in off three days rest more than anything - but it's an opponent that could make a first round series much more difficult that you'd want it to be. Even without Chris Bosh, the Heat have Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and are coached by Erik Spoelstra, who in case you forgot, coached the Heat to two titles in four years.

But it's worth noting that the Heat might not be in the seventh seed for long. Miami has won six of its last 10, while the sixth seed Milwaukee Bucks are reeling since the trade deadline. The Heat are just 2.5 games behind the Bucks and Milwaukee is a qualitatively different team with Michael Carter-Williams and without Brandon Knight. The Bucks weren't statistically much better with Knight on the floor - 0.9 points better per 100 offensively, 3.9 points better per 100 possession defensively - but Carter-Williams has been a negative. Per 100 possessions, the Bucks are 4.1 points worse on offense and 2.2 points worse on defense.