The first-round match-ups are starting to become a little clearer. Here’s how the bottom of the Eastern Conference looks right now:
5) Miami 38-33
6) Sixers 37-33
7) Detroit 34-36
8) Chicago 34-38
So the Pistons have clearly fallen out of the 5-6 race, meaning the second seed will almost certainly face Detroit, while the third seed will get either the Heat or the Sixers. I haven’t thought deeply yet about which of these three times I’d most like to face in the opening round, and I think all three of them are capable of getting a game or two from Boston and Orlando. As Jessica Camerato pointed out on WEEI today, the Pistons have eliminated the Magic from the playoffs the last two seasons and went 3-0 against Orlando this season. Interesting, but probably (maybe?) irrelevant come playoff time.
If Orlando gets the second seed, they’ll likely have another shot at the Pistons. As for Philly-Miami, the two teams split four games this season, so if they finish tied, the fifth seed will be determined by whoever has the better record against the Eastern Conference. Right now, Miami is 23-20 against the East, and Philly is 21-19, so that’s still up in the air. (After that, it’s record against Eastern Conference playoff teams).
So, C’s fans, which team–Miami, Philly or Detroit, do you feel most confident going up against?
**Update: My fellow CHer Brian Robb chastises me for prematurely eliminating the Bulls from 7th seed contention. Here’s Brian’s note: “I actually would be surprised if Chicago doesn’t move up to the 7th seed for the playoffs. They have 7 of their last 10 at home where they play very well (22-12) and have many of those games against sub .500 competition. Their road games are in Indiana, Toronto and Detroit. They hold a 2-1 edge over Detroit in season series with one matchup still to come against them in Auburn Hills on April 13th that could be huge in deciding the seeding. Meanwhile the Pistons are hurt, finish up with 7 of 12 on the road and still have games against the Lakers, Cavs (on road), twice against Philly, and in Miami besides their home matchup with Bulls. Not exactly an easy slate.”