The battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is nearing it's conclusion.
As the regular season comes to an end the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers are virtually level pegging with just a few games to go.
And while fans, and players alike, of both the Knicks and the Cavs may harbor hopes of making the postseason, in my opinion, they don't stand a chance.
The New York franchise have somehow managed to put together a run that has seen them emerge as playoff contenders after a fairly torrid season under the guidance of Mike Woodson.
They had won 12 of 15 until two costly defeats agains the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat over the weekend, and the return of demi-god Phil Jackson certainly gave them a little push in the right direction.
But they have left it all too late and now face a troublesome run in in their final four games.
Two games against a Toronto Raptors team who are playing with form ahead of their own playoff journey, a match up against the Chicago Bulls and a game against city rivals Brooklyn Nets does not make ideal reading for the franchise.
All three opponents are heading for the playoffs are cannot be relied upon to offer up an easy W.
As for the Cavs, they too have just four games remaining but are the outside bet with a 0.397 win percentage.
Granted, they face opponents (Bucks, Celtics, and the Pistons) who are probably already thinking ahead to the draft, and would likely gladly take a loss to help them towards a higher lottery pick.
But even if they pick up three straight Ws their final game, against the Nets, is unlikely to matter as long as the Atlanta Hawks play to script.
The Hawks had seemingly done their best to throw away any chance of the offseason in March, a month that included a string of seven straight defeats. However, two crucial wins agains the Cavs and the Indiana Pacers have put their season back on track.
And, as well as sitting on a 0.447 win percentage, they have the luxury of six remaining games in which to find the three wins that would secure playoff action for the seventh straight season.
Four of said games come against the same opponents due to face the Cavs, and if they even get near to matching their rivals record in these games they will tie up playoff qualification well before their final game April 17th.
People may try and fool themselves that the Knicks have a chance of giving Carmelo Anthony those playoff games he deserves, and the Cavs are clinging on to hope of their own, but that is all it is...hope.
When you look at the cold hard facts of the game remaining (and the teams involved) there is little point arguing that anyone other than the Atlanta Hawks will be facing Western Conference opposition in late April.