Sunday 18 February 2018 / 02:07 PM


It’s time to check in on where we stand heading into the final few weeks of the season. We’re finally down the nitty gritty, with the playoffs looming and just six games to go for each team in the league remaining, let’s take a look at the race everyone in the Association is talking about.

Boston Celtics (49-27) 1st Place in East

The Celtics have six games to go in the season to try and hold on to that top spot, and it’s a slightly tough path. They’ve got a trip to the Knicks, then a tough three games in four nights against the Cavs and a trip to Atlanta and Charlotte. They close with the Nets and Bucks at home, and that’s a little bit more of a breather. The Celtics chances are going to completely come down to that three game stretch, and whether they can hold on will largely depend on how if they can pull out two out of three.

Cleveland Cavaliers (48-27) .5 games back of 1st

The Cavs are seriously reeling. Forget the race for the one seed, the Cavs would be happy just to start playing competently again. And they better figure it out: they’re last seven games feature six playoff teams. They’ve got Indiana, a trip to Boston, back-to-back games against Atlanta, and then @Miami and home against Toronto to close the year out. That’s daunting for anyone, and I would be surprised to see them take back the top seed. If anything, they’re in danger of falling.

Toronto Raptors (46-30) 3 games back of 1st

The Raptors are in a dead heap with the Wizards for that 3rd seed, but Cleveland’s struggles have put them eyeing a top spot. The injury to Lowry hasn’t slowed them yet, and the Raptors have a much easier trip down the stretch than the other two, with Philly, Indiana, Detroit, Miami, NY, and Cleveland. The catch? Four of those are on the road, and the Raptors have been just a .500 team away from their friendly confines of home. With that much ground to make up, it doesn’t look promising.

Washington Wizards (46-30) 3 games back of 1st

Just looking at their season as a whole, I’d give the Wizards the best odds to make the splash into the top two of the conference between them and the Raptors. But the last week has given me pause: the Wizards are just 5-5 in their last ten, and face Golden State, Charlotte, the Knicks, Detroit, and Miami twice down the stretch. That’s five teams vying for a playoff spot, and the Wizards are probably just trying to get right rather than eyeing a chase.

How It’ll Shake Out:

1. Boston
2. Cleveland
3. Toronto
4. Washington

I know, I know: anticlimactic. But this thing is going to get tight. But with all the teams playing a fairly tough road of games, I just don’t see the Raptors or Washington catching either of the top two. And between the Cavs and Celtics, I don’t buy anything the Cavaliers are selling right now. I don’t think the collapse continues fully, as LeBron and company are too good to just flail in to the postseason lower than 2nd, but that schedule is a pain. The Celtics may have the easiest path of any of the teams in the final few games, and that is and that is bad news for the three behind them. I do think Cleveland loses their gap to the Raptors, and that will make for an exiting final game between the two, but the Cavs aren’t falling down to third.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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