The NBA regular season enters its final day and the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference still has not been determined. The Indiana Pacers enter play on Wednesday with a one-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets.
Indiana plays at Memphis on Wednesday while Brooklyn hosts Orlando. A win by the Pacers or a Nets loss will give Indiana the playoff spot. Brooklyn holds the tiebreaker and needs a win over the Magic combined with a Pacers' loss in Memphis to capture the playoff spot.
There is another element of intrigue surrounding the situation for the Atlanta Hawks who as the No. 1 seed will play either the Pacers or the Nets in the first round of the playoffs that begin this weekend. By virtue of the Joe Johnson trade, the Hawks can swap draft picks with the Nets this summer. So, if Brooklyn misses the playoffs then Atlanta will receive a lottery pick this summer.
It is interesting situation for Atlanta. While the Hawks have gone 7-0 this season against Brooklyn and Indiana, the Pacers are playing their best basketball of the season having won six straight games and are healthy with the return of Paul George to the lineup. The Pacers capturing the eighth seed would be an interesting first round rematch from last summer. The Nets at this point don't seem to be quite as formidable opponent but a lottery pick would be a valuable commodity to a team like Atlanta this summer.
Here is a look at the Eastern Conference standings as things enter the final day of the regular season:
|1. Atlanta Hawks||60||21||.741||0.0|
|2. Cleveland Cavaliers||52||29||.642||8.0|
|3. Chicago Bulls||49||32||.605||11.0|
|4. Toronto Raptors||48||33||.593||12.0|
|5. Washington Wizards||46||35||.568||14.0|
|6. Milwaukee Bucks||41||40||.506||19.0|
|7. Boston Celtics||39||42||.481||21.0|
|8. Indiana Pacers||38||43||.469||22.0|
|New York Knicks||17||64||.210||43.0|