While some NBA teams have locked up their playoff spot, there are other teams like the Celtics and Nets fighting to stay in and other teams like the Pacers and Heat fighting to get there.
Boston and Brooklyn are both 36-42 and are seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference, while Indiana and Miami are both 35-43 and fighting for that final spot.
While conventional thinking says the eventual No. 8 seed is going to get swept by the Atlanta Hawks (59-19) in the first round of the playoffs, Jared Greenberg isn’t so sure. In fact, Greenberg thinks at least one of the four teams in contention could push the Hawks to the brink.
“I think the most intriguing of them all would be Indiana getting in,” the NBA-TV analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “And right now as we stand this very moment, they’re on the outside looking in, but every moment it seems like that changes. If you had Indiana playing Atlanta, Indiana is the team that’s knocked the Hawks out of the playoffs the last couple years. Last season, Indiana, as you recall was the No. 1 seed but really was faltering toward the end of the season and the Hawks gave them a serious (scare). The Hawks almost eliminated the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. So to now return that favor with Paul George coming back – and tonight’s his second game back and he’s playing decent basketball – that would be unbelievable theater to watch the Pacers and the Hawks in reverse roles from a year ago.”
The Pacers have won three straight over the Hornets, Heat and Knicks. George had 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench against New York on Wednesday, helping Indiana to a 102-86 win at Madison Square Garden. George had 13 points and two rebounds in his first game back, a 112-89 win over Miami on Sunday.
While the Pacers have a chance to take down Atlanta, Chicago (46-32) has a chance to take down the whole Eastern Conference – as long as Derrick Rose is healthy. Rose returned from yet another knee surgery Wednesday, scoring nine points in a 105-103 loss to Orlando.
Was bringing Rose back this season the right move?
“Absolutely,” Greenberg said. “You’re not going to go very far in the playoffs with Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich handling the ball for Chicago. Listen, if they have any chance – and I’ve said it to you, I’ve said it to other people. I think the Bulls from top to bottom have the best roster, have the most playoff-tested roster, have the most experience and chemistry. But you need Derrick Rose. He’s that X-factor. Most teams, when you talk abut an X-factor, you’re talking about a guy who’s maybe somebody coming off the bench or your third or fourth scorer or a shot blocker. He’s the guy who’s a former MVP, and if he can get into gear almost half speed, it makes Chicago better and I think they can compete with Atlanta and Cleveland with Rose. Without him, I think that they’re probably the third-best team in the East.”