Heading into the last two months of the NBA season, the race for the eighth seed could come down to the last few weeks to decide who makes it in. One thing is for sure the East and West will have tough outs at the bottom of the bracket come playoff time.
The Race for the last spot in the Eastern Conference could come down to the end. Currently, with 24 games remaining on the Miami Heat (30-28) schedule, they hold the eighth spot over the Detroit Pistons (28-29) who have 25 games left. The Pistons are 2.5 games back of the Heat heading into the last two months of the regular season. The Heat have already brought back D-Wade Dwyane Wade on February 8th as part of a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Detroit also made a big splash in the trade market to help their team for the stretch run on January 29th.
The Pistons acquired NBA All-Star Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Avery Bradley along with a 2018 first round pick and a 2021 second round pick. The Pistons didn’t stop there on February 8th they acquired point guard Jameer Nelson from the Bulls for Willie Reed, a player that came over in the Griffin deal from the Clippers. Also. they acquired James Ennis a forward from the Memphis Grizzles for Brice Johnson the other player acquired from the Clippers in the Griffin deal.
Two other teams that could make a late run would be the Charlotte Hornets who are 5.5 games back of Miami Heat with a record of (24-33) and the New York Knicks (23-36) 7.5 games back. With the loss of Kristaps Porzingis, ACL injury, it might be tough for the Knicks to rebound and get back into it without there big man. It looks like it could be very well be a two team race for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Western Conference is a little more tight than the Eastern Conference with three teams trying to reach up and grab the eighth seed. The New Orleans Pelicans currently hold the highly coveted last seed in the West with a (31-26) record. They are led by big man and All-Star Anthony Davis. The Pelicans are looking to hold on to the eighth seed despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a ruptured Achilles.
The next team New Orleans is trying to hold off are the Los Angeles Clippers who are 30-26 (1/2 game back) even after trading Griffin. They are still led by guys like Lou Williams at point and Avery Bradley who came over in the Griffin deal. DeAndre Jordan is still a beast inside and under the direction of Doc Rivers the Clippers will be in the fight all the way to the end.
The other team trying to catch the Pelicans are the fast charging Utah Jazz, winners of 11 straight games. The Jazz are currently in the 10th spot 1.5 games back. The Jazz currently have the longest winning streak in the NBA at 11 games and are starting to put the pressure on both the Clippers and the Pelicans for the final spot. The Jazz were able to add Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose in a three-team deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings. Rose’s contract was bought out and Crowder will help in the Jazz front court alongside Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Joe Ingles. The Jazz backcourt features NBA Slam Dunk Champion Donovan Mitchell and point guard Ricky Rubio. The youth of Utah could play dividends down the stretch trying to get the 8th seed.
When all of the dust settles, look for the Miami Heat and Utah Jazz to grab the eighth seed in both the Eastern and Western Conference. Heading into the 2018 NBA Playoffs, both teams could give the top seed a run in the first round as well.