The Eastern Conference Clusterfuck

The top four is set, but the battle for the final four spots in the NBA's Eastern Conference Playoffs is as tight and bunched-up as Magic Johnson's boxers. Milwaukee, Washington, and Indiana all have identical 39-40 records, with Chicago one game behind them at 35-41. The Sixers are the odd man out at the moment, 2 games out of a spot at 37-42. With perhaps a little bit of shuffling among the order, the four teams that are in right now are probably the same four teams that will end up sliding in.

HowEVA (© Stephen A. Smith)... right behind them, we have the Orlando Darkos, probably the best team of the group. They're mathematically alive, but barely. At the moment, they're three games out of a spot with three to play, despite their current 7-game winning streak that includes wins against maybe the best five teams in the NBA, the Spurs, Pistons, Mavericks, Suns, and Heat. The Darko trade has been great for them (no, seriously), and they've got a bright young line-up with Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and of course, Darko. This is probably the last time in a while that they're not going to be in the playoffs.

Key games remaining:

Sixers @ Magic, Tonight.
Bucks @ Wizards, Tuesday.
Magic @ Pacers, Wednesday.
Bulls @ Magic, Monday.