The Eastern Conference is far from settled right now, from top to bottom.
Miami could hypothetically pull themselves together for a run to thrust them past the Pacers for the top spot to ensure home-court advantage in any series except for possibly the NBA Finals, should they make it that far. Indiana and the Heat have pretty much wrapped up the top two seeds in some order since the gap between them and the Raptors is so large.
But the current third-seeded Raptors are a mere half-game ahead of the fourth-seeded Bulls, beginning a mish-mash of playoff seedings that could see a lot of change over the next couple weeks.
The Wizards, Nets and Bobcats have the fifth, sixth and seventh seedings, respectively. However, a mere 2.5 games separates them. And it's not inconceivable that one of these teams could get hot and challenge the Raptors or Bulls for a better slot. Stranger things have happened.
But something will have to give soon for some of these teams as the margin for error gets smaller. Each team is playing pretty well recently. The Raptors, Bulls, Wizards and Nets are all 7-3 in their last 10 games and the Bobcats are 6-4 having won six of their last seven.
As the number of remaining games dwindles, the two-week stretch of games beginning today could shake up the standings.
The Bobcats start off with tonight's match against the Hawks at home. Atlanta isn't much of a threat to regain ground in the playoff hunt but with Paul Millsap back, there's certainly a chance after injuries so decimated their standing.
The rest of their two-week schedule is no cakewalk with two games against the Nets and one against the Wizards, which should be hard-fought battles between teams who can make up significant gaps or further them between them and their challengers. Charlotte also has games against the Trail Blazers and Rockets at home, which won't be easy. The Bobcats' game against the Magic could be the easiest but even that one is on the road.
The Nets and Wizards each have eight games in the same time the Bobcats have seven, so the extra rest could be advantageous. Brooklyn's schedule looks to be a bit easier with games against Boston, New Orleans, Cleveland and Minnesota. But the Wizards have a tough stretch of games in the next couple weeks with a four-game West coast trip and home games against the Suns and Pacers.
With the Bobcats trying to play leapfrog, they can't really afford to struggle as they did today against the Bucks if they want to catch someone sleeping and hunt down a better seed for the playoffs. As shocking as it might be, they probably won't win out the rest of the season. And neither will the other teams. But Charlotte will need consistent effort to finish the season strong with the best chance to catch up.