The NBA playoff schedule 2011 won’t be official until tomorrow night. Yet while the exact schedule isn’t set for the playoff teams in the East, they now all know who they’re facing. Most of the postseason picture is already set, as every division title, top seed and berth was locked up days ago. Now all that’s left is to set the official matchups; the East got a head start, yet the West still has work to do.
The Bulls and Pacers have been locked into the 1-8 matchup for days, with the Magic and Hawks settled in the 4-5 battle. The only suspense left was whether the Heat or Celtics would get the No. 2 slot, and whether the Sixers or Knicks would be No. 6. Yet Miami all but locked up the No. 2 spot by beating Boston Sunday, then sealed the deal last night.
The Heat kept up its momentum by beating the Hawks on the road to clinch at least a tie for the second seed. Meanwhile, the Celtics had bigger things to worry about, as they rested their stars against the Wizards. It looked like it would pay off at first, but Washington’s starters finally defeated Boston’s backups in overtime.
This officially gave Miami the No. 2 position, and home court if they face Boston in round two. But they have to start their schedule in round one, and their first playoff opponent was also determined last night for good measure. Their in-state rivals actually helped them out there, as the Magic defeated the struggling Sixers.
The Sixers’ defeat dropped them into the seventh slot for good after they held the No. 6 position for a few weeks. Now Philadelphia has to face Miami, while Boston is facing a sure-to-be heavily hyped series with New York.
Although one side of the NBA postseason bracket is completely settled, the other side is still in flux. In the West, the top-seeded Spurs and the fifth-seeded Nuggets are the only teams to have their position set. Thanks to a late Lakers slide, Los Angeles is now in danger of being third or fourth, and slipped into third when the Mavericks won last night.
However, the Lakers still hold a tiebreaker over the Mavericks and Thunder, and still just need to win out for the No. 2 position. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Hornets are fighting over the sixth, seventh and eighth slots in a “pick your poison” proposition.
But the Western Conference holds the only intrigue left in the regular season, as the playoff schedule in the East is pretty much in place. Yet although the Eastern matchups are set, they won’t get the times and dates of their games until tomorrow night, like every other postseason team.