The Eastern Conference playoff picture is like a perfectly crafted S’more turned on its head.
Miami and Milwaukee serve as the stout graham crackers (definitely not store brand) providing the structural integrity for the whole seeding system. They are definitely not going anywhere. (Besides, there isn’t a person on this earth that enjoys inverse S’mores. Why get your hands covered in gooey marshmallow if the S’more is going to taste the same? If you comment that you like inverse S’mores, I will provide free advice on how to make better life decisions).
Indiana is a perfectly broken, four-rectangle chunk of Hershey’s chocolate. It’s possible they could be placed next to Milwaukee without affecting the taste, but it just wouldn’t feel right. They are exactly where they’re going to be.
That brings us to the marshmallow center. Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York have the molecular structure of a ‘mallow heated for maximum gooeyness. As the S’more is being constructed for its formal scarfing on April 20th, these pieces of the gooey center are going to slip and slide all over each other before finally settling into place. Trying to predict that final settlement is an arduous task filled with guesswork and educated speculation. One is unlikely to come out of this prediction without sticky hands. Luckily, I’m up for the challenge.
As you can see from the graphic above, Boston currently resides in the 7th seed, Brooklyn in the 6th, Chicago in the 5th, Atlanta in the 4th, and New York in the 3rd. The graphic also indicates the results of a very fortuitous weekend for the Celtics. Yesterday, the Bulls, Hawks, and Knicks all lost. On Saturday, the Bulls won but they beat the Nets so it was impossible to lose that game if you’re a Celtics fan. Friday was also a day where the sun shined on the Green as the Hawks and Nets both lost. The Knicks may have narrowly edged out the Wizards on the road, but the Celtics took care of business by stymying Steph Curry and winning big against the Warriors.
Three out of the five Eastern Conference teams that make up the ‘mallow are no better than .500 over their last ten games. Boston and Atlanta are the only teams with positive records, both at 6-and-4. We can see that no one team is playing incredibly well, so it’s safe to assume that the actual gooey center seeds, or GCS, are up for grabs. These GCS’ are so malleable that seven games that graphic above could look very different. Let’s break down the next 7 games for each team and see if we can make some predictions.
KNICKS: @Cleveland, @Detroit, vs. Oklahoma City, vs. Utah, @Golden State, @Denver, @Portland
PREDICTED RECORD: (4-3)
The Knicks face some tough competition in their next seven games, with big ones against OKC and Denver. Despite the fact they’re getting OKC at home, I still think they lose this game. Their other two losses will come somewhere in some machination of those last three games Personally, I think they’ll beat Golden State and then lose to Denver and Portland. The Knicks are better than the Blazers, but they’re playing that game in the Rose Garden on the SEGABABA. It’s as close as a schedule loss as you’re going to be guaranteed.
HAWKS: @Denver, vs. Philadelphia, @ Boston, vs. Brooklyn, @ Miami, vs. Lakers, vs. Suns
PREDICTED RECORD: (2-5)
The Hawks have an awful stretch coming up. I would have predicted a “quality” win against Brooklyn, but they face them on the SEGABABA and have to travel home from Boston that morning. They should beat the Sixers and the Suns but I don’t see how they get past Denver, Boston, Brooklyn, Miami or the Lakers. Oh did I mention the Lakers game, the same team they lost to last night, is another SEGABABA following Miami? Poor birds.
BULLS: @San Antonio, vs. Utah, @Los Angeles Lakers, @Sacramento, @Golden State, vs. Denver, vs. Portland
PREDICTED RECORD: (4-3)
The Bulls face their equivalent of the C’s west coast swing. It’s not as bad as the Atlantic coastal teams given that Chicago is more west. This allows them to mix in some home games during this stand. That said, I see them losing to the Spurs, Lakers, and Denver. Perhaps I’m over-valuing Denver by predicting that everyone will lose to them. Only time will tell, but I just think that team is awesome. The Bulls take care the Kings and Blazers and get nice wins against Utah and Golden State.
NETS: @Charlotte, vs. Washington, @Atlanta, @Philadelphia, vs. New Orleans, vs. Atlanta, @Detroit
PREDICTED RECORD: (3-4)
The Nets will have a strong start, taking care of the Bobcats, Wizards, and Hawks before incurring some bad losses. They’ll lose a toss up to Philadelphia on the road. Since losing to Philly, a fringe playoff team, isn’t a bad enough loss, I see the Nets losing to New Orleans and Detroit and then splitting with Atlanta. I don’t believe in this team at all and they are going to have to prove they can take care of business.
CELTICS: @Philadelphia, @Indiana, vs. Atlanta, @Oklahoma City, @Charlotte, vs. Raptors, vs Bobcats
PREDICTED RECORD: (5-2)
The C’s face Indiana and Oklahoma City on the road and let’s face it, these are two really good teams. It’s not awful to expect them to lose to these teams. It may be awful to expect them to win each of the other games in this sequence. The C’s have been known to earn bad losses this season so it could be unreasonable to expect that they will, to keep using the cliche, take care of business. However, I’ll choose to be positive.
THE SHAKE OUT
Now that we have each team’s win-loss record for their next seven games, it’s time to put those predictions into an MIT super computer to get the future standings.
Beep, Bop, Boop, Boop, Beep.
1. Miami 2. Indiana
3. New York
A lot can happen after this seven game stretch to continue to alter the playoff picture. I also could be horribly off in my predictions. However, I don’t think anything I predicted was unreasonable and thus, it is reasonable to think that the Celtics could be sitting in the fifth seed seven games from now. A far more delicious seed than 7th. For now, all we can do is sit back and wait to see how it all unfolds.