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Cavaliers, Hawks Set For Potential Eastern Conference Finals Preview Friday

Posted by on 3/5/2015 8:17:34 PM

While the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference aren’t set yet it’s clear that at least the top-six teams have all but clinched their postseason spots with where in that mix they will finish the only thing left to figure out the rest of the way. However, while the Cleveland Cavaliers have hit their stride a couple of teams expected to contend in the East have trended in the opposite direction since the NBA All-Star break and it seems as though there is legitimate concern for both of them. Here is a quick look at four key games for this Friday night.

Toronto Raptors @ Charlotte Bobcats

Friday, 7:00 PM ET

The Raptors are the first of the two teams that have dealt with some adversity since the All-Star break and have trended in the wrong direction. Toronto is just 4-6 over its past 10 games but more importantly they have lost some very winnable games and looked completely overmatched down the stretch of their loss to Cleveland on Wednesday even though they did play that game without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is reportedly dealing with a number of nagging injuries and is expected to return soon but even then they will be in tough come playoff time if they match up with the Cavaliers, Hawks or Bulls in the second round. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri was criticized for not adding to his roster at the NBA trade deadline and while it might work out better for the overall future of the team it certainly hasn’t provided any immediate benefit for a Toronto team that has looked tired at times. Charlotte isn’t a real contender in the East but they are fighting for the eighth seed and if Lowry doesn’t play it wouldn’t be a shock to see them steal an important win at home.

Pick: Charlotte

Miami Heat @ Washington Wizards

Friday, 7:00 PM ET

Another playoff team that has really struggled is the Wizards, which have posted a 3-7 record over the past three weeks and fallen to fifth in the standings in the process. What makes Washington’s struggles even more concerning is the fact that they have lost so many games with a relatively healthy roster minus Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce for a handful of games and even with those two in the lineup they have struggled. Miami suffered a seemingly insurmountable loss when it was announced Chris Bosh will miss the remainder of the season but they still have enough talent to give the Wizards a tough game. John Wall and company have to start approaching these games with a sense of urgency because if they lose any more ground in the standings it won’t be long before head coach Randy Wittman is fired.

Pick: Miami

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks

Friday, 7:30 PM ET

All eyes will be on the Cavaliers and Hawks and a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview when they meet Friday night. Cleveland has been on fire over the past couple of months thanks in big part to LeBron’s MVP play and an improved cast around him thanks to a couple of important trades and it will be interesting to see how these teams match up against one another. Atlanta still doesn’t get the respect it probably deserves but can change that in front of their home fans on Friday night with a win. The Cavaliers could be the better team come playoff time but right now the Hawks have strung together five wins in a row an should be able to take care of business in a close game.

Pick: Atlanta



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