Who will finish where in the East?
As the NBA regular season approaches the final stretch, it is time to look ahead to which teams will finish where in the Eastern Conference and therefore, who will face who in the playoffs.
With just over 25 games left ahead of the post-season, there will be anxious glances all around the association at the standings for those looking to climb the ladder.
Top spot in the East is a formality, as the Miami Heat are coasting through the season and are currently on a twelve game win streak.
LeBron James and friends have been unstoppable through February, with the rest of the league looking on hoping that they are hitting their peak early.
At this rate though, the chasing pack have little chance of disturbing the Heat at the top, so who will they face in the playoffs?
A quick look at the Conference and it looks as though it will be the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are currently 28-28 for the season, and with the Philadelphia 76ers in disarray and the ‘Rudy Gay effect’ wearing off with the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee may well sneak that eighth spot.
The intriguing race is behind the Heat, with the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets all tightly packed together.
The Pacers have perhaps shown enough to suggest they have what it takes to move away from the pack, with All-Star Paul George leading them to a five-game winning streak.
Should the East finish as it is, that would mean a difficult opening series with the Boston Celtics for the Pacers, and that would be a match-up that no team would relish.
The New York Knicks enjoyed a great start to the season, holding lofty hopes of topping the Conference with Carmelo Anthony stepping it up and showing he has what it takes to lead them to a Championship.
Despite falling out of their stride either side of the All-Star break they appear to be back on track and are more than capable of chasing down the Pacers for second place.
However, the picture is a little less clear when considering the trio camped in the middle of the playoff positions. While there is little between the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets, the Chicago Bulls are currently experiencing a worrying slide.
Blow-out defeats to Miami and the Oklahoma City Thunder were followed by a worrying loss to a Kyrie Irving-less Cleveland Cavaliers. While the hope will be that a fully fit Derrick Rose returns in time to provide a much needed boost, the Bulls need to steer clear of injuries in order to maintain their position.
Possible Eastern Conference playoff match-ups:
1. Miami Heat v 8. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Indiana Pacers v 7. Boston Celtics
3. New York Knicks v 6. Atlanta Hawks
4. Brooklyn Nets v 5. Chicago Bulls
How do you see the playoff picture in the East?