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NBA Playoffs: Examining the remaining schedules of 76ers, Pacers, Celtics

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After looking into the Pistons competitors for the final spots in the East we shift to looking at their possible opponents if they make it back to the sixth seed.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Drummond attempting to evict Joel Embiid from the real estate in his head. A meeting with former Pistons Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovich. A clash of new vs old school point forwards in Ben Simmons vs Blake Griffin. Each one a story in a match up with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Or...

Renewing a Bad Boys rivalry, only this time with the Celtics point guard wearing #11. Another meeting with former Pistons Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes. A potential death blow to the future Kyrie Irving/Anthony Davis in a pairing. All in a match up against the Boston Celtics.

Or....

Malice at the Palace teams meet in the playoffs again. Just how good are the Pacers without Victor Oladipo? The battle of young centers Drummond and Myles Turner. Every one a must-see in a match up with the Indiana Pacers.

These are just a few of the many many story lines that await a Pistons team in a potential first round match up in the NBA Playoffs, that is of course if they manage to get back the 6th seed after losing it back to the Brooklyn Nets.

Going into the stretch run in the race for the eight playoff spots, the Eastern Conference finds itself in three tiers that should remain as such barring some sort of massive melt down by any team:

Tier 1 (spots one and two): Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks

Tier 2 (spots three to five): 76ers, Pacers, Celtics

Tier 3 (spots six to eight): three of Pistons, Nets, Heat, Charlotte, Orlando.

As we just looked at the remaining schedules of Tier 3, it’s only natural to want to keep an eye on the schedule of the teams we might be matching up with as well. So let’s take a look at Tier 2:

Philadelphia 76ers (42-25)

Remaining SOS: .457 (26th)

Home games: 5

Away games: 9

Back-to-backs: 2

Tue, Mar 12, 2019 vs Cleveland Cavaliers

Fri, Mar 15, 2019 vs Sacramento Kings

Sun, Mar 17, 2019 @ Milwaukee Bucks

Tue, Mar 19, 2019 @Charlotte Hornets

Wed, Mar 20, 2019 vs Boston Celtics

Sat, Mar 23, 2019 @ Atlanta Hawks

Mon, Mar 25, 2019 @ Orlando Magic

Thu, Mar 28, 2019 vs Brooklyn Nets

Sat, Mar 30, 2019 @ Minnesota Timberwolves

Mon, Apr 1, 2019 @ Dallas Mavericks

Wed, Apr 3, 2019 @ Atlanta Hawks

Thu, Apr 4, 2019 vs Milwaukee Bucks

Sat, Apr 6, 2019 @Chicago Bulls

Tue, Apr 9, 2019 @ Miami Heat

Wed, Apr 10, 2019 vs Chicago Bulls

Philly has by far the easiest schedule based on SOS (Strength Of Schedule) of the three here, and currently sits at third place tied with Indy but possess the tiebreaker courtesy of winning the season series 3-1. Their home and away games with the first place Milwaukee Bucks are the only games they will play as the team with the worse record so yeah, relative cakewalk. The only other teams they’ll play who are even in the playoff hunt are the Celtics, the Charlotte, the Orlando, the Brooklyn and the Miami (once each). So if the Pistons do happen to secure the sixth seed this team is the one we’re most likely to see. Get your troll gear on DBB, and Dre, it’s put up (with Embiid) or shut up (Embiid) time.

Indiana Pacers (42-25)

Remaining SOS: .543 (6th)

Home games: 7

Away games: 8

Back-to-backs: 2

Tue, Mar 12, 2019 vs New York Knicks

Thu, Mar 14, 2019 vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Sat, Mar 16, 2019 @ Denver Nuggets

Mon, Mar 18, 2019 @ Portland Trail Blazers

Tue, Mar 19, 2019 @ Los Angeles Clippers

Thu, Mar 21, 2019 @ Golden State Warriors

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 vs Denver Nuggets

Wed, Mar 27, 2019 @ Oklahoma City Thunder

Fri, Mar 29, 2019 @ Boston Celtics

Sat, Mar 30, 2019 vs Orlando Magic

Mon, Apr 1, 2019 vs Detroit Pistons

Wed, Apr 3, 2019 @ Detroit Pistons

Fri, Apr 5, 2019 vs Boston Celtics

Sun, Apr 7, 2019 vs Brooklyn Nets

Wed, Apr 10, 2019 @ Atlanta Hawks

Indy has the most difficult SOS of these three teams, coming in at 6th most difficult overall. Home and away games against Oklahoma City, Denver, Boston, and Detroit loom large plus away games at Golden State, LA Clips and Portland and home games versus playoff hopefuls Orlando and Brooklyn. We’ve all been talking about how brutal Brooklyn’s schedule is but Indy’s is no victory lap at The Brickyard. Hard to imagine they get back into third. Most likely they’re looking at fourth or fifth with a total collapse to fall to sixth doubtful (they currently have seven fewer losses than Detroit and eight fewer than Brooklyn).

Boston Celtics (41-27)

Remaining SOS: .498 (15th)

Home games: 7

Away games: 7

Back-to-backs: 2

Thu, Mar 14, 2019 vs Sacramento Kings

Sat, Mar 16, 2019 vs Atlanta Hawks

Mon, Mar 18, 2019 vs Denver Nuggets

Wed, Mar 20, 2019 @ Philadelphia 76ers

Sat, Mar 23, 2019 @ Charlotte Hornets

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 vs San Antonio Spurs

Tue, Mar 26, 2019 @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Fri, Mar 29, 2019 vs Indiana Pacers

Sat, Mar 30, 2019 @ Brooklyn Nets

Mon, Apr 1, 2019 vs Miami Heat

Wed, Apr 3, 2019 @ Miami Heat

Fri, Apr 5, 2019 @ Indiana Pacers

Sun, Apr 7, 2019 vs Orlando Magic

Tue, Apr 9, 2019 @ Washington Wizards

Boston sits smack dab in the middle as far as SOS is concerned falling at number 15. Their games against potential playoff teams are away games at Philly, Charlotte, Brooklyn, Miami, and Indiana and home games against Denver, San Antonio, Indiana, Miami and Orlando. Being that their schedule looks less daunting than Indiana’s it’s quite possible they leap frog them to grab the fourth seed and home court against them in the playoffs. If they catch fire they might challenge the 76ers for third. In which case how would you feel about playing the hated Celtics and seeing a Boston point guard wearing #11? Would be hard to swallow but better if the Pistons sent them packing and in doing so substantially complicated their off season plans.