Our NBA experts predict how the crowded East standings will shake out

Apr 13, 2021

NBA Insiders

The Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks have all separated themselves from the pack in the Eastern Conference. The rest of the standings? Well, that picture is much less clear.

With six teams — the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers — separated by just three games, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the bottom half of the East will shake out with a little more than a month remaining in the regular season.

For teams like the Heat and Celtics, who met in last season’s conference finals and entered 2020-21 with championship aspirations, avoiding the play-in round is a top priority.

Which team should be considered the favorite to break from the logjam to capture the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs? Which potential play-in matchup would create the most drama? Should