Now that the No. 1 seed in the East is pretty much wrapped up, the Cavaliers now must turn their attention to (I can’t believe I am saying this) maintaining the best record in the NBA.
The team with the best record in the NBA Finals will have home-court advantage and as long as the dirty Cleveland curse can keep its ugly head out of here for just this one time, the Cavaliers should be playing in June.
Whether they have that best record or not, we'll find out in the next eight games.
Right now, they hold a three game lead over the Lakers. However, the Lakers own the tie-breaker, so we would have to finish one game above them to guarantee home court advantage.
Lets take a look at each team’s remaining schedule.
I’ll start with the Lakers, who have lost two in a row at the absolute worst time of the season to Atlanta and Charlotte (who by the way, find themselves just one game behind Chicago for the No. 8 seed in the East.)
The Lakers have eight games left including tonight at Milwaukee. Tonight’s game marks the final game of their seven game East Coast road trip.
The rest of their schedule includes home games to Houston (4-3), Los Angeles Clippers (4-5), Denver (4-9), Memphis (4-12), and Utah (4-14) and road games in Sacramento (4-7) and Portland (4-10).
I only expect the Lakers to lose one, maybe two more games.
They’ll be challenged by Houston Friday night and Denver next Thursday, but at home, they should pull off the victory.
Next Friday, they play the Trail Blazers at Portland. The Blazers beat the Lakers on March 9 in Portland by 17 points.
Houston, Portland and Denver, as of today, all sit within a game and a half of each other in the Western Conference playoff standings (Denver No. 2, Houston No. 4 and Portland No. 5.) So all of them have something to play for and will compete as if it were a playoff game.
But of course the Lakers, as they learned last June, need home-court advantage in the finals so I assume they'll be playing at a playoff level as well.
Utah also is within two and a half games of second seeded Denver, but the Lakers/Jazz match-up isn’t until the last day of the season and there is a good chance by then all of the playoff seedings will have already been sorted out.
The Cavaliers also have eight games left. They’ll play on the road in Washington (4-2), Orlando (4-3), Philidelphia (4-10), and Indiana (4-13) and play home to San Antonio (4-5), Washington (4-8), Boston (4-12) and Philadelphia (4-15).
Many of these games scare me.
Washington, despite their horrid record, always plays well against the Cavs, which they should because we’ve ended their season the past three years.
The Orlando game will be extremely tough as the Cavs have not won on the road versus the Lakers, Boston or Orlando yet this season. Orlando and Boston are still fighting for that No. 2 seed.
The San Antonio game won’t be a walk in the park either, they are still fighting for the No. 2 seed in the West.
Both games against Philly will be tough because they are fighting for the No. 5 seed.
The Cavs can afford to go 6-2 and it wouldn’t matter how the Lakers finish their season.
If I had to bet, 6-2 sounds just about right. We’ll probably lose in Orlando on the second night of a back-to-back against one of the best teams in the league and while Boston and San Antonio will be extremely tough match-ups, I’ll pick the team that is 36-1 at home to pull those games out.
At Philly next Friday could be the final defeat of the season.-Nick Carrabine