Projecting the East Playoff Race

Chris Barnewall —  March 26, 2014

As we reach the end of the season the bottom half of the Eastern conference is in a tight race. The Nets have been pulling away as of late, but they aren’t out of the woods yet. The Wizards are holding on to that 5-6 range for dear life and the Bobcats are making a mad push for the sixth seed.

But where does this leave Atlanta? Currently at the bottom of the East playoffs in that eight spot. It’s possible with the team finally healthy (when Korver gets back into the lineup) they will make a run at a higher seed. I decided to take a look at their remaining schedule, along with everybody else in the 5-7 slots, to see how they might finish position wise.

Ground rules:

I will use my judgement to try and figure out who I think should win the game based on factors such as skill, being on a back to back, and home/away.

Games between Atlanta, Charlotte, Brooklyn, and Washington will use a 1-10 number generator: 1-5 is a win and 6-10 is a loss. For the Hawks, I rolled on them. For other games, I rolled on the home team.

If there are extraneous circumstances then I will consider those. For instance, Atlanta had a back to back where they had to play in Charlotte then go back home to Atlanta. That’s a 40 minute plane flight, not the roughest travel for the Hawks.

Remember this is all in a vacuum under a certain set of rules to try and look at the remaining schedules. The intent is to give us an idea of how the season might finish out. I am not saying this is how it will end or if this is how I think it will end.

Atlanta Hawks Schedule

Wed, Mar 26  @ Minnesota 8:00 PM: L
The Wolves may look like a team who’s spirit has been broken and this could very well be a game the Hawks win. But Atlanta has a very bad history of road games against the west this season and the Wolves have a top 10 player who has played like a top five player this season. The Wolves are definitely the more likely winner.
Thu, Mar 27 vs Portland 7:30 PM:  L
Portland is a western conference playoff team and the Hawks are on a back to back. Chalk this up as a loss, even if the Blazers are without LaMarcus Aldridge.
Sat, Mar 29 @ Washington 8:00 PM:  W
The Hawks have a very important game against Washington (who is coming off a back to back after playing Indiana) and the number generator landed on a 2. The Hawks break their losing streak tonight.
Mon, Mar 31 vs Philadelphia 7:30 PM:  W
Philly is so so so so so soooooooooooooooo bad.
Wed, Apr 2 vs Chicago 7:30 PM:  L
The Hawks never play well against Chicago. If they want to improve their playoff seeding, or maybe at this point just make the playoffs, this will be an important game for them. Sadly for them, I don’t see a win.
Fri, Apr 4  vs Cleveland 7:30 PM:  W
The Cavs can never be trusted to do what they’re supposed to do. The Hawks should win, but the Cavs are a weird team to predict. Be weary of this game.
Sun, Apr 6 @ Indiana 6:00 PM:  L
The Hawks give the Pacers a lot of problems. Not enough problems to proclaim they’re going to win a game on the road against the Pacers.
Tue, Apr 8 vs Detroit 7:30 PM:  W
I’m pretty sure Detroit is tanking to keep their pick. Hawks should win.
Wed, Apr 9 vs Boston 7:30 PM:  W
Back to back at home for Atlanta. The Hawks should be able to beat a bad Boston team at home… should.
Fri, Apr 11 @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM: L
The random number generator gives me a 7 and says the Hawks lose this one. They’ve struggled with Brooklyn this year anyways, so them losing wouldn’t be a shocker.
Sat, Apr 12  vs Miami 7:30 PM:  L
Matchups, record, and skill. The Heat are better in every way. And as we’ve seen in the past, just because the Heat may be resting players at this point does not mean the Hawks are going to win.
Mon, Apr 14 vs Charlotte 7:30 PM:  L
Big game for the Hawks and Charlotte. According to the number generator, Hawks get a 6; Charlotte wins. (They’re due to beat the Hawks anyways, right?)
Wed, Apr 16 @ Milwaukee 8:00 PM:  W
Easy win for the Hawks to finish the season. Milwaukee is really, really bad.

Current record: 31-38 Finishing record: 37-45
Charlotte Bobcats schedule:

Wed, Mar 26 vs Brooklyn 7:00 PM: L
These games can go either way. The number generator gave me a 7, so I gotta give Brooklyn the win here. This going to be a crucial game at home against two teams battling for playoff seeding.
Fri, Mar 28 @ Orlando 7:00 PM: W
While this should an auto win, it won’t be an easy win. The Magic may be one of the worst teams in the NBA but they’re one of the tougher wins on the schedule to get. They always keep teams on their toes and, if they’re at home, they can beat anybody as we’ve seen with their wins against Indiana and Oklahoma City this season.
Mon, Mar 31 vs Washington 7:00 PM: L
I got a 7 again. That’s two losses at home to teams Charlotte is playing for playoff seeding against.
Wed, Apr 2 @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM: W
The Sixers are awful, that’s a win.
Fri, Apr 4 vs Orlando 7:00 PM: W
Playing Orlando this time around won’t be as difficult. While Orlando is still one of the tougher wins you can get against a bad team, they are nowhere near as threatening on the road.
Sat, Apr 5 @ Cleveland 7:30 PM: W
Kyrie Irving is hurt and who knows when he’ll be back. The Cavs could potentially shut him down for the season if they feel they don’t have much to fight for. This is a win for the Bobcats against a very disappointing Cleveland team. I had them making the playoffs this season…oops.
Wed, Apr 9 @ Washington 7:00 PM: W
I got a 10 on the number generator this time. That’s a big win for Charlotte.
Fri, Apr 11 @ Boston 7:30 PM: W
The Celtics surprised a lot of people at the beginning of the season by being competitive and getting wins. But you knew it wasn’t going to last forever and then the Celtics turned into what we all thought they would be.
Sat, Apr 12 vs Philadelphia 7:00 PM: W
Mon, Apr 14 @ Atlanta 7:30 PM: W
Went over this above, the number generator likes Charlotte.
Wed, Apr 16 vs Chicago 8:00 PM: L
Got to give Charlotte a loss here. Chicago is going to be playing as hard as possible to get favorable seeding for themselves at this point of the season. It’s not impossible for the Bobcats to win this game, but the more likely outcome is the Bulls winning.

Current record: 34-37 Finishing record:42-40
Brooklyn Nets Schedule

Wed, Mar 26 @ Charlotte 7:00 PM: W
Went over this above, the number generator has spoken.
Fri, Mar 28 vs Cleveland 7:30 PM: W
A home game against a Cavs team with possibly no Kyrie? That’s a win.
Sun, Mar 30 vs Minnesota 6:00 PM: W
Minnesota barely has a winning record and is one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA. They’ve constantly had one of the better net ratings in the NBA but have some really awful losses. I’m going to give the Nets the benefit of the doubt here and say they pick up the win at home.
Tue, Apr 1 vs Houston 8:00 PM: L
No chance they beat Houston. This is a loss.
Wed, Apr 2 @ NY Knicks 7:00 PM: W
I know that this is a back to back on the road, but the Nets play in Brooklyn and then travel to Manhattan; that’s not much of a problem. The Knicks are on a tear but I have no trust in them.
Fri, Apr 4 vs Detroit 7:30 PM: W
Detroit hasn’t played anything that’s resembled good basketball in a long time. This is a win for the Nets.
Sat, Apr 5 @ Philadelphia 7:30 PM: W
I honestly think Philly isn’t going to lose out the season. But they aren’t beating the Nets.
Tue, Apr 8 @ Miami 8:00 PM: L
I really don’t care that Miami hasn’t won a game against the Nets all season. I don’t even care that they’re coasting. I’ll pick them 100 times out of 100, especially at home.
Wed, Apr 9 @ Orlando 7:00 PM: W
The Nets just played Miami, the Magic are 15-18 at home. The Nets are 13-20 on the road. I could definitely see Brooklyn losing this game. But you can’t trust the Magic to win it even though they’re such a tough team to play at home.
Fri, Apr 11 vs Atlanta 7:30 PM: W
Number generator above game the Hawks the loss, so that’s a victory for the Nets.
Sun, Apr 13 vs Orlando 6:00 PM: W
They get the Magic again and this time at home, with rest. That’s a win.
Tue, Apr 15 vs NY Knicks 8:00 PM: W
I will give the Nets the win because…well lets face it, do YOU trust the Knicks?
Wed, Apr 16 @ Cleveland 8:00 PM: W
Cleveland’s miserable season comes to an end at home against the Nets.

Current record: 37-32 Finishing record: 47-35
Washington Wizards Schedule

Wed, Mar 26 vs Phoenix 7:00 PM: L
Phoenix is battling for their playoff lives. They aren’t going to let an Eastern conference team get in their way.
Fri, Mar 28 vs Indiana 7:00 PM: L
Indiana has played some awful ball as of late. They’re still the number 1 team in the East. Indiana wins.
Sat, Mar 29 vs Atlanta 8:00 PM: L
Again, number generator already went over this game; tough back-to-back for the Wizards.
Mon, Mar 31 @Charlotte 7:00 PM: W
Went over this above, the generator says they win this.
Wed, Apr 2 vs Boston 7:00 PM: W
A home game against Boston with rest? That’s a win.
Fri, Apr 4 @ NY Knicks 7:30 PM: W Even though the Knicks are at home, I’m going to give the Wizards the benefit of the doubt and give them a win.
Sat, Apr 5 vs Chicago 7:00 PM: L
A back to back against Chicago at home? The Wizards chances are slim, that’s a loss.
Wed, Apr 9 vs Charlotte 7:00 PM: L
The Wizards lose this one according to the number generator.
Fri, Apr 11 @ Orlando 7:00 PM: W
Even though Orlando is at home, the Wizards are rested. That’s a win.
Sat, Apr 12 vs Milwaukee 7:00 PM: W
The Bucks, despite how hard the Sixers are trying, are still the worst team in the NBA.
Mon, Apr 14 vs Miami 7:00 PM: L
Miami is really good, even if they’re resting players by this point.
Wed, Apr 16 @ Boston 8:00 PM: W
Washington is ending the season against a team they can definitely beat, this one will likely have major playoff implications. They should win it.

Current record: 36-34 Finishing record: 42-40
So as we can see the Hawks are very unlikely to be able to get anything higher than an eighth seed. With my current projections, everybody in the East will finish over .500 except for the Hawks. The injuries have just been too much this season and that stretch where the Hawks lost 14 of 15 was just too big for them to overcome.

Chris Barnewall


Shuttles are cool. College student at UCF. Twitter is @ChrisBarnewall where I talk about video games too much.