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Plenty of action has already manifested itself, and we’re only through a week of the season. The Celtics are still undefeated, sharing the honor with Denver as the only unbeaten teams left. However, the close call with Minnesota was a tad much for my taste. After trying twice unsuccessfully, Denver is finally looking like they might have a shot. The Central Division belongs to the Cavs again after a very awkward start. Oklahoma City’s still hanging in there. The Mavericks are throwing their weight around as well. Who would have thought the Lakers wouldn’t be in first place in their division? With all that’s going on, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday November 4 at 11:30pm (sans the late games):
The Nuggets were okay two years ago, good last year, and so far are looking great this year. The Blazers, meanwhile, start out 2-3 five games in. Portland lost out to Houston last year in the first round, while Denver only lost in the Western Conference Championship round to the Lakers. Look for Denver to march forward yet again.
Oklahoma’s hanging around, while Phoenix only lost their first game Wednesday, to Orlando. Oklahoma has lost two in a row, to the Blazers and Lakers. Both teams are riding negative momentum right now, though the Suns would very much like to get back into the playoffs after barely missing last year. They shouldn’t have too much of a problem with Oklahoma, who haven’t meant much of anything since they were the Seattle Supersonics.
This will be good. LA edged Houston in Game 7 in the second round last year, and scored a 103-102 squeaker victory over the Rockets in Houston Wednesday. Even without Yao Ming, the Rockets have come to play. After last year’s and Wednesday’s games, this one could really go either way.
The Mavericks knocked off the Spurs in the first round last year, and 0.5 games ahead of their divisional rivals. Dirk Nowitzki is coming off a 40 point performance Tuesday against the Jazz. If the Mavs can keep up performances like that, they will be able to once more advance over the Spurs, but don’t think the Spurs will make it easy.
We all remember what happened October 28 between these two. It looked like Atlanta vs. Boston in the first round two years ago. The Celtics are roaring, and the Bobcats just barely squeak in by the Conference record tiebreaker over Chicago. Charlotte’s last big champion was Ric Flair, and don’t expect the Bobcats to change that anytime soon.
Miami is looking very well after last season’s seven-game heartbreaker against the Hawks. Philadelphia is coming off a shellacking against who else but Boston. In recent years, Philadelphia has shown a propensity for being booted out in the first round. So have the Heat last year, but they were the NBA’s worst team just two seasons ago. That’s a lot of progress that could serve them well here.
In another match-up of 4-1 vs. 2-2 teams, the Magic have picked up right where they left off; as their dominant selves in the #3 spot. The Raptors are trying to bite and claw their way back into playoff contention. Not a bad start, but the Magic may make the Raptors disappear in this series.
Cleveland swept Atlanta last year in the second round. Atlanta’s right around where they were then. But if Cleveland stays in this weakened seed, Atlanta will likely be salivating and looking to get one up on the Cavs. With home court advantage due to a better record (with Cleveland’s seed coming from divisional leadership), look for Bibby and co. to swoop into action, forcing at least a lengthy series if not winning.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors