NBA Playoffs Race: Boston Celtics Tie Cleveland Cavaliers For 1st Place in East, Blazers Catch Nuggets For 8th in West
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Isaiah Thomas fights for a loose ball against the Miami Heat. The Celtics are now tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference. (Photo : YouTube Screencap)
With just 10 games left in the regular season, the Boston Celtics have tied the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum in the Western Conference, the surging Portland Trail Blazers now find themselves tied with the Denver Nuggets for the final playoff spot in the West.
While nobody could have predicted this at the start of the season, the Boston Celtics were not in a celebratory mood after their 112-108 victory over the Miami Heat tied them with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the East. “I mean, it’s nice – it’s just a tie though,” said All-Star Isaiah Thomas. As noted by NESN, the Cavs hold a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Celtics. They face off in Boston for their final game on Apr. 5.
Out West, the Portland Trail Blazers pulled their record to 35-38 with nine games left in the season, and tied with the Denver Nuggets. As pointed out by FOX Sports, the Blazers looked set to miss the playoffs at the end of February with a 24-35 record. They now set themselves up for a huge game against the Nuggets Tuesday to break the tie. “We put ourselves in a good position, but our hardest work is ahead of us,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. Following the game against the Nuggets, the Blazers will still have four games against playoffs teams, facing the Utah Jazz twice, and facing elite teams in Houston and San Antonio.
But while the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets are just about the only teams with a chance to get the eighth seed in the West, things are more complicated in the Eastern Conference with the fifth to seventh place teams having identical records, and the eighth place Miami Heat just two games behind them. So despite having a close race for the top seed, the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t exactly have their pick of who they will play in either of the first two rounds.
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