Celtics, Sixers rise; Cavaliers sink into lottery abyss
Posted: Monday April 18, 2005 3:27PM; Updated: Monday April 18, 2005 3:27PM
The Week That Was
Allen Iverson led the 76ers to a pair of unlikely wins over the Heat and Pacers to help secure Philly's playoff future.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Though the final playoff seeds have yet to be etched in stone and three days remain in the regular season, the NBA has a pretty good idea of where it stands as it heads into the marathon also known as the playoffs.
There still is a wee bit to play for. Chicago, Washington and Indiana are still working out the kinks in the East. Houston and Sacramento are tied for the 5th seed out West. And, oh yeah, the Cavaliers still have a chance to atone for their month-long meltdown in the wake of Paul Silas' firing.
The top and even bottom drawer teams did their part to keep things on the level by refusing to tank games -- a nice move on behalf of multimillionaires seemingly more interested in vacation plans. I can't suggest the same will happen from here on 'til Wednesday, but there will be some things worth paying attention to.
The Celtics entered the last full week of the season on the verge of frittering away their Atlantic Division lead. Antoine Walker was playing through a bruised knee, and the second-place Philadelphia 76ers were looming via a four-game winning streak. To their credit, the C's pulled together for a week that far exceeded expectations, taking down the 76ers on their home floor, winning a close one in Milwaukee, overcoming Shaquille O'Neal's return to action while beating the Heat and out-chucking the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. The four-game streak handed Boston the Atlantic and allowed the Celtics to start dreaming of exacting playoff revenge on the Pacers starting next weekend.
Houston finally caught up to the Kings and took over the fifth spot in the West, while putting a scare into the rest of the conference. Though Juwan Howard's continued absence continues to worry the coaching staff, the Rockets couldn't be bothered with the SuperSonics, Grizzlies, or Nuggets last week; they took down the three playoff teams by an average of 16 points per game.
We would be remiss if we failed to recognize the amazing Allen Iverson, who averaged 30.8 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and 2.4 steals in just under 43 minutes a game last week, an effort that helped the 76ers grab hold of the East's seventh seed.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers fired Paul Silas on March 21, GM Jim Paxson told the press that Silas' presence was "jeopardizing our ability to be a playoff team this year," a statement that seemed downright laughable at the time. The Cavs downright stunk in the month between the All-Star break and Silas' dismissal, but they were still rolling along with a 34-30 record and the East's fifth seed.