The bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket is a bit ugly, but things are improving for teams in the top four spots. The Miami Heat are the runaway No. 1 seed, yet the teams below them are heating up. The New York Knicks have won 10 consecutive games and moved a half-game ahead of Indiana for the No. 2 seed. The Indiana Pacers are 8-2 in their last 10 contests, and a Brooklyn Nets win combined with an Atlanta Hawks loss on Wednesday pushed Brooklyn two games up on Atlanta for the No. 4 seed. If that trio of teams continues to play well, the path to the NBA Finals for LeBron James and the Heat may still be a bit bumpier than most people expect.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee Bucks fans, their team does not look primed to cause any trouble for the Heat. The Bucks lost on Wednesday to the Minnesota Timberwolves and fell 2.5 games behind Boston for the No. 7 seed. Milwaukee will play five of their final eight games against plus-.500 teams and six of those eight on the road, so don't expect the Bucks to make a move to escape a first-round matchup against Miami.
Atlanta's home loss to Carmelo Anthony and Knicks on Wednesday trimmed their lead over the Chicago Bulls for the No. 5 seed to just half a game, and the Bulls own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Atlanta will need a strong finish to solidify a matchup against the Nets in the first round.