There’s a 99.9% chance that whichever team ends up as the #8 seed in the east is going home in the first round. Most likely in a sweep. They’ll have a date with the LeBron led and defending NBA champs Cleveland Cavaliers.
James has never lost a first round series in each of his 11 appearances. In fact he hasn’t lost a single first round game since 2012. He has the single most consecutive first round series wins in NBA history, winning 44 out of 51 first round playoff games. His dominance in the east is never over-looked, regardless of the lack of competitive balance compared to the Western Conference.
At this point, Mar. 6 2017 the 6th and 11th seed are separated by 5 games. The Pacers(32-30), Bulls(31-31), Pistons(30-32), Heat(29-34), Bucks(28-33), and Hornets(27-35) are all fighting for position. All teams who have been in the playoffs within the past few seasons and are looking to gain consistency. Which will be the more compelling first round series? Let’s see.
This past summer the Miami Heat lost the greatest Heat player in franchise history, and 13 veteran Dwayne Wade. A player who helped deliver the city 3 world championships. They lost him to free agency once he decided to join the Chicago Bulls, which he is a native of the city. Chris Bosh is most likely finished as an NBA player due to blood clots he suffered the past 2 years. A team that had won 2 straight championships with 4 straight finals appearances had looked like they were going into rebuild mode, and it started with Pat Riley turning center Hassan Whiteside into the franchise player.
Through the first 41 games of the season the Heat went 11-3o and looked like one of the worst teams in the league. After that 116-108 at Milwaukee the Heat went on a 13 game winning streak in which 4 Heat players scored at least 30 points in a game. Now two months has passed and their record is 29-34 and they are a game and a half out of the number 8th seed. The Heat have 8 players averaging double digits in scoring which is leading the NBA BY FAR! Goran Dragic is averaging 20.2 points, and assists, Whiteside is averaging 16.7 points and 14.1 rebounds, Dion Waiters is averaging 15.4 points with 4.3 steals, that team has no true no office player but it’s evident how they are winning. They are stacked with mid-leveled young players who just needed the opportunity. They aren’t just beating bad teams, they have some impressive wins, one coming against the Golden State Warriors. The Heat would give the Cavaliers all they could handle if that were a first round matchup.
The jury is out on Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as a franchise player. He’s averaging 23.2 points,, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists, along with 1.9 blocked shots, on 52.9% shooting, but the Bucks are underachieving as always. Is he capable of being the best player on a championship team? The roster has talent with guys like Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe, Michael Beasley, and Matthew Dellevedova, so the roster can’t possibly be the issue. Right now they are #10 in the east and also are 1.5 games out of the 8th spot.
The Detroit Pistons wee supposed to take that next step. Currently they are #8 in the east, but it is a standstill compared to where they were a season ago. A team that features all-star big man Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, and coached by Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons pushed LeBron and the Cavs during the playoffs a season ago. Now they were expected to make the leap like Boston did into one of the higher seeds. A season ago the Pistons starting 5 led all NBA starting 5’s in total points for the season. This season have been full of drama surrounding point guard Reggie Jackson. They team tried to move him before the deadline, but they failed to see eye to eye. He is up to make 18 million dollars next season. A player that received a 5 year 80 million dollar contract he’s has not lived up to it. He will probably be moved this summer. They team has not been happy with his shoot-first mentality, and on the court the team with both Jackson and Drummond on the floor has been nearly as bad at the Brooklyn Nets.
The Pacers are 32-30, and are probably going to make the playoffs, but the question is whether Paul George is a true superstar to build around or not. The Pacers were willing to deal George before the deadline. Top suiters were the Lakers, and Celtics. 3 years if you asked Larry Bird and the front office if they were willing to trade Paul George, you probably would’ve heard a heck no, no way in a million years. There was a point that Paul George was in arguments with LeBron has the best small forward in the NBA. George led a Pacers team the 2 straight conference finals against LeBron before going down with a broken leg in the summer of 2014 at a team USA scrimmage. Every since then he has not been the same.