Don't tell Boston, but by all accounts it would appear as though the Cavaliers have given up their pursuit of first place. A Cleveland win would lock up the #1 seed in the East for LeBron & Company.
Atlanta survived a seven-game losing streak in March and goes into the playoffs with wins in four of the past five.
It should be a great 1st round of games in the Eastern Conference. The rest of the team has struggled all season with injuries but, when push comes to shove, it's hard to see anybody in the East being able to unseat the Cavs from their throne atop their conference. Because the Pacers lost tiebreakers to both teams (and Chicago owns the tiebreaker over Miami), if the Pacers lose, they'll finish in seventh if all three teams lose, in eighth if either Chicago or Miami win and, worst case scenario, will miss the playoffs entirely if both the Bulls and Heat win.
In the West, the eight playoff teams were set entering Wednesday night and only seeding was at stake as the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz entered the night with matching 50-31 records.
The Toronto Raptors have taken a step up from where they were the last couple years. But that's when things get weird.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after a three point basket against the Utah Jazz during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. The Hawks rallied to tie the game at the buzzer on a Paul Millsap jumper from the baseline following a jump ball. The Hawks became only the third team in league history to win a game after trailing by 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Rondo on national television is a cut above his general best. The Cavaliers headed to Miami on the back-end of a back-to-back to lick their wounds and apparently rest a few players.
Aside from Rick Carlisle being a masterful defensive coach - the only National Basketball Association coach to play a zone for four quarters in a game during preseason, perfecting a system that would ruin James' first championship run in Miami - they have the interchangable parts to confuse the Wizards. LeBron certainly will but it is whether Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the Cavs ageing roster can find the same switch The King does come playoff time. However, Cleveland would blow that lead and lose to the Heat in overtime 124-121.
Because if Fred Footwipe can't show playoff chops after not showing regular-season chops, then what's the point of keeping him?
Cleveland's collapse was complete. The Celtics made the climb to the Eastern Conference's top seed which was impressive.
The Celtics finished the season hot, too, going 9-3 in their final 12 games.
Isiah Thomas, the Chicago native, disproved the "big beats little" theory for quite some time when his Pistons took on the Chicago Bulls in their heated playoff battles.
Paul George has been sensational of late, averaging 33 points in April to help in secure a postseason berth. James messed around and got a triple-double, scoring 41 points, grabbing 14 boards and dishing out 11 assists. Guard DeMar DeRozan is on fire, having scored at least 35 points six times in his past dozen games.
However, the Pacers have bounced back strong after that tough loss and won five consecutive games. This team is the biggest threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There are plenty of intriguing Round 1 matchups this year, and here's a chance to pick which Eastern Conference teams you think will advance to the second round of the playoffs.
That run has sparked some discussion about whether Rondo can still morph into "Playoff Rondo".
The Cavaliers' offense is fine. The Washington guard duo combine to average almost 44 points a game, and Wall is among the top assists men in the league. However, their defense is the problem. They may have done it based strictly on the Cavs free fall but they did it none the less.
The 8.5-point Vegas spread just looks like a lot of points to give considering the way Cleveland is playing.
Jimmy Butler is the best player in this series and how Boston deals with the threat he poses will be crucial.