With a victory at Brooklyn on Friday, the Cavaliers can cut their deficit to reach the NBA playoffs to 2.5 games.
The Cavs currently trail the Hawks for the eighth and final spot (by three games). The chances of the Cavs actually catching the Hawks aren’t awful.
Let’s say the Cavs (29-44) win both games this weekend — Friday at Brooklyn and Sunday at home vs. Indiana. Let’s say the Hawks (31-40) lose Saturday at Washington. Suddenly, the Cavs are 1.5 games back with seven to go. Would you believe then?
Now, let’s say the Cavs only win one this weekend. That’s OK. I think they can finish the regular season 7-2 and still make it. But they have to go 7-2. Anything worse than that would take a MAJOR tank job by the Hawks. They’re not very good right now, but they will win again. And winning four or five of their final 11 will likely be enough.
That’s especially the case since the Hawks own the tiebreaker vs. the Cavs — regardless of what happens in their April 4 meeting in Atlanta. The Hawks and Cavs play three times this season and the Hawks have already won two.
Of course, the Cavs aren’t just battling the Hawks. The Knicks (30-42) stand between them, and frankly, the Knicks may be the biggest threat to nab that eighth seed. They’re so up-and-down, though, it’s impossible to predict. Then again, you could say the same of the Cavs and the Hawks.
Anyway, the Cavs and Knicks split their four-game season series. So the tiebreaker comes down to whichever team has a better winning percentage in the conference. Right now, that’s the Knicks. But if the Cavs win seven of their final nine, that would change.
I know a lot of folks are saying you need to win 38 to get in. I think that number is high. I sure as heck don’t see the Hawks winning seven of their final 11 (or even six, since they own the tiebreaker) and I don’t see the Knicks winning eight of 10. I’m not so sure I can see the Cavs winning seven of nine, either.
But one thing we have to factor into all this — other teams will slowly but surely secure their seeds in the playoffs. That means they’ll start resting their best players. For instance, say the Nets land the No. 5 seed, and can’t move from it, on the final day. The Cavs play the Nets on the final day at home. If the Cavs are desperate for a win, well, that type of situation would certainly assist things. The Hawks and Knicks could face similar circumstances as well.
Anyway, there you have it. Two weeks to go and the Cavs are still in it. If they do their part, hey, you never know.