With the Easter Conference as abysmal as ever, four spots are still up for grabs.
From the 5th seed Washington Wizards down to the 11th placed New York Knicks, the East is separated by just 5.5 games.
It’s tough to say that any of these teams deserve to make it, but four will get in while three will enjoy an early vacation.
Here’s a quick look at why each team will either be in or out of the Playoffs.
Washington Wizards (26-28): John Wall has shown everyone why he was drafted number one overall back in 2010. He’s made his first All-Star appearance and has the Wizards in playoff race.
- In: Wall continues to have a great season. Andre Miller is able to add punch to a woeful bench. Bradley Beal continue to improve as Wall’s sidekick.
- Out: The bench offers nothing. Nene, Marcin Gortat, and Beal aren’t able to make up for a struggling bench.
Brooklyn Nets (25-27): An early season championship pick that has not lived up to expectations. Age, injuries, and chemistry had slowed this team out of the gate.
- In: The teams health and chemistry continues to improve. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are able to resemble their Boston days.
- Out: Age and fatigue kick in. Jason Kidd isn’t able to get the most out of his team. Marcus Thornton isn’t able to provide a spark off the bench. The Nets are able to fill the hole at center left behind by Brook Lopez’s injury.
Atlanta Hawks (25-29): A team that is in a free fall at the moment. The Hawks are without their star Al Horford for the season.
- In: Paul Millsap is able to make up for the loss of Horford. Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague are able to able to supply good guard play
- Out: Elton Brand isn’t able to handle a daily basis of playing center. No other guards/wings outside of Korver or Teague step up. Millsap isn’t able to shoulder the load all alone.
Charlotte Bobcats (26-30): The Bobcats have relied on great team defense and the post game of Al Jefferson to get to where they are now.
- In: Jefferson continues to dominate teams down low. Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and new acquisitions Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour are able to be factors on the perimeter and help make this a better offensive team.
- Out: The perimeter game never shows up to balance the inside attack of Jefferson. The team’s defense isn’t able to make up for the lack of offense.
Detroit Pistons (23-32): One of the most talented but flawed starting lineups in the league. Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, and Co haven’t been able to mesh as many hoped.
- In: The Pistons are able to find a way to mix in a perimeter game to their inside game. Greg Monroe, Smith, and Drummond are able to coexist on the court.
- Out: Jennings and Smith aren’t able to make up for a lack of perimeter game. The defense and bench don’t improve.
Cleveland Cavaliers (22-34): Probably one of the hottest teams in the East right now, the Cavs have forced themselves into the playoff picture.
- In: Kyrie Irving continues his great play. Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes give the team a needed boost on offense.
- Out: The Hawes trade doesn’t help the center spot. Anthony Bennett goes back to his early season ways. Irving is forced to carry the team on his back, something he may not be able to do with the talent around him.
New York Knicks (21-34): One of the most disappointing teams in the league, the Knicks picked the wrong time to stink it up with Carmelo Anthony’s impending free agency.
- In: Melo continues his great season. Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler, and the rest of the team are able to contribute on a nightly basis. The offense finally clicks.
- Out: The supporting cast of Melo continues to struggle. Injuries pop out again. Melo is forced to outscore opposing teams on his own.