Monday, April 6, 2009

Measuring up the race for the 2 seed

So we have hit the final two weeks of the season. And as far as the No. 2 seed goes, virtually little has been decided between the Magic and the Celtics.

The two teams split the season series -- although it can be argued Boston looked much better in the four games, blowing Orlando out of the first two and charging furious rallies to nearly steal the other two. And each has proven it can win on the other's home court.

For a team like the defending champion Celtics, home court may not matter. For a team like the young and relatively inexperience Magic, home court is a must for this impending second-round series.

The standings read this morning: Boston 58-19, Orlando 57-19.

The race will come down to the wire. With the season series tiebreaker tied, conference record will break the tie. The Celtics are 37-10, the Magic 36-12. It appears for Orlando to get the second seed in the playoffs, the team will have to finish ahead of Boston.

Is this possible?

Orlando has six games remaining -- three home, three away. The toughest game on the schedule is Tuesday night's date at Houston. After that, the Magic will not play another team who is going to be in the playoffs. More importantly, four of the final six are against teams in the Eastern Conference. After Wednesday's home date with Memphis, Orlando will play Eastern Conference foes the rest of the way.

That puts a pretty heavy importance on the final four games -- more than what has already put on them.

Assuming the Magic can beat New York and Charlotte at home and top New Jersey and Milwaukee on the road, is that enough to gain three games on the Celtics?

Boston has five games left, but a much trickier schedule (and some injuries players are nursing). They will play Miami, Cleveland and Philadelphia during the weekend and early part of next week. The Celtics could lose two of those three, but it is tough seeing them lose all three. Cleveland and Philadelphia are road games too.

So let's assume the Magic go 5-1 in their final six -- and it is hard to tell if they can with the way they are playing right now. They would need Boston to go 4-2. It is possible for Orlando to get the No. 2 seed.

But that is why they play the games.

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