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NBA Playoffs: Examining the remaining schedules of Pistons, Nets, Heat, Magic, Hornets

The Pistons are enjoying the spoils of the softest part of their schedule while the Nets are about to enter the gauntlet

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If you are into the narrative ebbs and flows of an NBA season, the Detroit Pistons are about to embark on the two biggest games of their season — road tests versus the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat.

Those two teams possess the two immediate spots below the Pistons in the Eastern Conference standings, and represent the two last playoff teams if the season entered today. With wins, Detroit can punch its ticket. Lose, however, and Detroit risks sliding to the bottom of the standings or even out of the playoffs entirely.

Sometimes, though, it makes sense to zoom out and see what is going on beyond the opponents directly in front of Detroit’s face. Because, frankly, thanks to taking advantage of the softest part of its schedule, the Pistons are already virtually guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.

The number-crunchers at 538 put Detroit’s odds at 98 percent, and if you look at the remaining schedules for the bottom of the East it’s easy to see why.

Detroit Pistons

Remaining SOS: 12
Home games: 7
Away games: 10
Back-to-backs: 3

Detroit does have some tough games coming up with home tilt against the Raptors and then a west coast swing that includes the Blazers, Warriors and Nuggets. But sandwiched between those are games against the DOA Lakers, who might be resting LeBron, the Cavs and the Suns. The Pistons also wrap up their season against a Hornets team that might have fallen out of the playoffs, the Grizzlies and the tanktastic New York Knicks (Henry Ellenson revenge game, anyone?).

Detroit Pistons Remaining Schedule

Date Time Opponents
Date Time Opponents
Mon Mar 11 2019 7:30p Brooklyn Nets
Wed Mar 13 2019 7:30p Miami Heat
Fri Mar 15 2019 7:00p Los Angeles Lakers
Sun Mar 17 2019 4:00p Toronto Raptors
Mon Mar 18 2019 7:00p Cleveland Cavaliers
Thu Mar 21 2019 10:00p Phoenix Suns
Sat Mar 23 2019 10:00p Portland Trail Blazers
Sun Mar 24 2019 8:30p Golden State Warriors
Tue Mar 26 2019 9:00p Denver Nuggets
Thu Mar 28 2019 7:00p Orlando Magic
Sat Mar 30 2019 7:00p Portland Trail Blazers
Mon Apr 1 2019 7:00p Indiana Pacers
Wed Apr 3 2019 7:00p Indiana Pacers
Fri Apr 5 2019 8:00p Oklahoma City Thunder
Sun Apr 7 2019 4:00p Charlotte Hornets
Tue Apr 9 2019 7:00p Memphis Grizzlies
Wed Apr 10 2019 8:00p New York Knicks
Info courtesy of Basketball-Reference

Brooklyn Nets

Remaining SOS: 1
Home games: 5
Away games: 9
Back-to-backs: 2

The Nets have to be seating a little bit. Brooklyn does have a comfortable four-game lead over the outside-looking-in Magic, but their schedule is absolutely murder. Brooklyn has the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA, including a brutal seven-game road trip after facing the Pistons today.

That trip features games against the Thunder, Jazz, Clippers, Kings, Blazers and Sixers. Then they get to come home and face the Celtics, Bucks, Raptors and then back on the road for the Bucks and Pacers. Would anyone be shocked if Brooklyn won about four games for the rest of the season and finished well below .500?

Brooklyn Nets Remaining Schedule

Date Time Opponents
Date Time Opponents
Mon Mar 11 2019 7:30p Detroit Pistons
Wed Mar 13 2019 7:00p Oklahoma City Thunder
Sat Mar 16 2019 9:00p Utah Jazz
Sun Mar 17 2019 9:00p Los Angeles Clippers
Tue Mar 19 2019 10:00p Sacramento Kings
Fri Mar 22 2019 10:30p Los Angeles Lakers
Mon Mar 25 2019 10:00p Portland Trail Blazers
Thu Mar 28 2019 7:00p Philadelphia 76ers
Sat Mar 30 2019 6:00p Boston Celtics
Mon Apr 1 2019 7:30p Milwaukee Bucks
Wed Apr 3 2019 7:30p Toronto Raptors
Sat Apr 6 2019 5:00p Milwaukee Bucks
Sun Apr 7 2019 5:00p Indiana Pacers
Wed Apr 10 2019 8:00p Miami Heat
Info courtesy of Basketball-Reference

Miami Heat

Remaining SOS: 7
Home games: 7
Away games: 9
Back-to-backs: 2

The Heat have a tough schedule in the immediate future and some tough opponents to end the year with a nice, soft middle to help make up ground or pad their lead in the standings. The Pistons Bucks, Thunder Spurs and Bucks again with only the Hornets in between to offer a respite. Then, ending the year playing at Brooklyn with maybe a playoff spot on the line after just facing the Celtics twice, Wolves, Raptors and Sixers.

That final game might mean nothing depending on how the Magic fare. Speaking of Orlando ...

Miami Heat Remaining Schedule

Date Time Opponents
Date Time Opponents
Wed Mar 13 2019 7:30p Detroit Pistons
Fri Mar 15 2019 8:00p Milwaukee Bucks
Sun Mar 17 2019 1:00p Charlotte Hornets
Mon Mar 18 2019 8:00p Oklahoma City Thunder
Wed Mar 20 2019 8:30p San Antonio Spurs
Fri Mar 22 2019 8:30p Milwaukee Bucks
Sat Mar 23 2019 7:00p Washington Wizards
Tue Mar 26 2019 7:30p Orlando Magic
Thu Mar 28 2019 7:30p Dallas Mavericks
Sat Mar 30 2019 7:30p New York Knicks
Mon Apr 1 2019 7:30p Boston Celtics
Wed Apr 3 2019 7:30p Boston Celtics
Fri Apr 5 2019 8:00p Minnesota Timberwolves
Sun Apr 7 2019 12:00p Toronto Raptors
Tue Apr 9 2019 7:30p Philadelphia 76ers
Wed Apr 10 2019 8:00p Brooklyn Nets
Info courtesy of Basketball-Reference

Orlando Magic

Remaining SOS: 27
Home games: 7
Away games: 7
Back-to-backs: 1

The Magic have the easiest path in front of them, but digging themselves out of a three-game hole in the loss column will prove to be difficult with only 14 games remaining. Orlando hasn’t exactly capitalized in its previous eight games. Yes, the team was able to nab unexpected victories against the Raptors, Warriors and Pacers but they’ve also dropped games to the Bulls, Knicks, Cavs and a crusher last night against the Grizzlies.

Orlando needs to go on a run right now with a run that seems them face the Wizards, Cavs, Hawks, Pelicans and Grizzles. If it can go 5-0 in that stretch then it’ll be a real race for that final playoff spot. But their margin for error is just about zero.

Orlando Magic Remaining Schedule

Date Time Opponents
Date Time Opponents
Wed Mar 13 2019 7:00p Washington Wizards
Thu Mar 14 2019 7:00p Cleveland Cavaliers
Sun Mar 17 2019 6:00p Atlanta Hawks
Wed Mar 20 2019 7:00p New Orleans Pelicans
Fri Mar 22 2019 7:00p Memphis Grizzlies
Mon Mar 25 2019 7:00p Philadelphia 76ers
Tue Mar 26 2019 7:30p Miami Heat
Thu Mar 28 2019 7:00p Detroit Pistons
Sat Mar 30 2019 7:00p Indiana Pacers
Mon Apr 1 2019 7:30p Toronto Raptors
Wed Apr 3 2019 7:00p New York Knicks
Fri Apr 5 2019 7:00p Atlanta Hawks
Sun Apr 7 2019 7:30p Boston Celtics
Wed Apr 10 2019 8:00p Charlotte Hornets
Info courtesy of Basketball-Reference

Charlotte Hornets

Remaining SOS: 8
Home games: 6
Away games: 10
Back-to-backs: 3

The most away games, the most number of back-to-backs and the largest hill to climb. Maybe I shouldn’t have even bothered including the Hornets. Yes, they only have one more game to climb than the Magic, but I just don’t see it. If anything, Charlotte does have the benefit of ending the year with the Raptors, who might already be resting players, a Pistons team who might be locked into their seed, the Cavs and then maybe a winner-goes-to-the-playoffs game against the Magic. I’d love to see a Hornets game, perhaps the last regular season game with Kemba Walker in a Hornets uniform, mean that much.

Charlotte Hornets Remaining Schedule

Date Time Opponents
Date Time Opponents
Mon Mar 11 2019 8:00p Houston Rockets
Fri Mar 15 2019 7:00p Washington Wizards
Sun Mar 17 2019 1:00p Miami Heat
Tue Mar 19 2019 7:00p Philadelphia 76ers
Thu Mar 21 2019 7:00p Minnesota Timberwolves
Sat Mar 23 2019 6:00p Boston Celtics
Sun Mar 24 2019 6:00p Toronto Raptors
Tue Mar 26 2019 7:00p San Antonio Spurs
Fri Mar 29 2019 10:30p Los Angeles Lakers
Sun Mar 31 2019 8:30p Golden State Warriors
Mon Apr 1 2019 9:00p Utah Jazz
Wed Apr 3 2019 8:00p New Orleans Pelicans
Fri Apr 5 2019 7:00p Toronto Raptors
Sun Apr 7 2019 4:00p Detroit Pistons
Tue Apr 9 2019 7:00p Cleveland Cavaliers
Wed Apr 10 2019 8:00p Orlando Magic
Info courtesy of Basketball-Reference