The 2014 NBA season draws to a close as these final games will be played out during the next few nights. While the Western Conference features a very tight race in multiple areas; the Eastern Conference has elected to not be as dramatic this time around.
Six of the eight available spots have already been locked down by teams at this point of the year. Only the seventh and eighth spots are still being contested and four teams have an opportunity to take one of the two positions.
Charlotte and New York currently occupy those slots as the seventh and eighth teams respectively. These two teams have had seasons that have been quite different from one another. Many pundits were surprised with how well Charlotte started the year, just to fall apart late and find themselves battling for a chance to keep playing. The Knicks, on the other hand, had much of the NBA community perplexed with how bad they were performing just to go on a late season run that has allowed them to crack the top eight.
Another difference between the Eastern and Western Conferences is the idea that there's a potential for upsets in the Western bracket. That isn't the case in the East as both the Bobcats and Knicks will face some stout challenges no matter if they finish where they are or vice versa. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers will be clear favorites in their playoff series and either team winning multiple games would be surprising.
Beyond the Knicks and Bobcats the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers should not be left out of the equation. Atlanta's record of 32-42 is very close to that of the Knicks and the Cavaliers are a mere two games behind the eight spot. On Friday, April 4 the two teams will face off against each other in a very important game in Atlanta. Both teams also have pending games against Charlotte which could help their playoff efforts and those of the teams in the bracket around them.
The Eastern Conference has long been marred by sub par teams that have found a way to make it into the post season. The 2014 season will continue the trend as there is a potential for at least 3 teams to play during the summer series while having a losing regular season record. That doesn't make any of these last games less important as there is still reason to watch the close of the 2014 NBA year.