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We’re a month through the NBA season, and plenty of strong teams are vying for early winning streaks, pride, and momentum. The Suns are holding off the perennially dominant Lakers in the West (with the Nuggets and Mavericks not far behind), while the Hawks are beating out the Big Three teams (Celtics, Cavaliers, and Magic) in the East. Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, and Indiana are all in it as well.
Is the playoff bracket relatively stable, or will new teams turn it upside down? Will New Jersey ever win? To find out, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, October 25 at 11:30pm (sans the late games):
Phoenix is unbeaten at home and is doing well on the road, while the Thunder have been average at each. The Thunder did beat Phoenix in the preseason, though it was only by five. The Thunder won in Utah Tuesday, while the Suns won at home against Memphis Wednesday. Oklahoma would put up a fight, though Phoenix should carry the day in the end, after about six games.
Los Angeles has won four straight, while Houston was destroyed by Dallas 130-99 Tuesday (at home no less). Los Angeles knows Houston had no reason to force them to seven games last season, and they should have no problem with a diminished Rockets team. Though so far, each team has won once on the road, so the Rockets could easily make a series of it again.
Both teams have won three straight, though San Antonio has yet to win on the road, while Denver has yet to lose at home. Add to that their three game lead over the Spurs, and the Nuggets will easily move into the second round.
Dallas only holds a 0.5 game lead over Portland (pending the results of Portland’s late game against the Nets). They are virtually identical in most stats. This could definitely go either way. Though if Portland can’t blow away the Nets like the Mavs blew away the Rockets, I’ll take the Mavs.
Atlanta is coming off a tough loss Saturday to the Hornets, while the Pacers took down the Clippers Wednesday. The rest will either do the Hawks good, or will create a little rust. For their sake, it had better be the former when they face the Magic on Thanksgiving. Still, being unbeaten at home will go a long way for Atlanta.
Ready for another triple overtime, everyone? Or maybe a triple-double this time around. Chicago has lost three in a row to drop to 6-7, while the Celtics won a thriller against Philadelphia Wednesday to move to 11-4. The Bulls are an abysmal 2-6 on the road this season, which coupled with the Celtics’ crushing of Chicago earlier in the season gives Boston an edge that should help them avoid another game seven.
Cleveland has won three in a row while Milwaukee has dropped their last two. They’ve essentially traded momentum since the beginning of the season, setting the world’s karma right again. Expect Cleveland to take the series without too much protest from Milwaukee.
You might think Orlando would be set as the favorite, but not quite. Playing in Orlando Wednesday, Miami’s Michael Beasley dunked off an offensive rebound with 1.6 seconds left to lead the Heat to a 99-98 win. Orlando will probably win the series anyway, though after Miami’s recent performance, we have to believe it will be a long series either way.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs