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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 8

Lakers vs Celtics: Week 8's prediction for the NBA Finals

Some interesting moves have occurred this past week. The Bulls just can’t seem to get their act together. The surging Knicks are just half a game out of a playoff spot. After winning their first ten home games, the Suns have lost their last two. The Lakers and Celtics both look to be getting back on track after having their win streaks unceremoniously interrupted. And don’t forget the Bucks, yet, as they are in the process of slipping back into obscurity. With so many things to take a look at, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, December 24 at 12:45am:

West:

#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #8 Utah Jazz

Utah didn’t want to face Los Angeles in the first round last year, and they don’t want to face L.A. now. The Lakers are 16-2 at home, which is more than enough to stop Utah on the road (5-9). A five game win streak vs. a two game losing streak also works in Los Angeles’ favor here, especially given the Lakers’ home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

#2 Denver Nuggets vs. #7 San Antonio Spurs

Denver looked impressive in a 124-104 win against Atlanta Wednesday, while the Spurs lost at home to Portland 98-94. San Antonio has struggled to maintain their status as a playoff team, while Denver has picked up right where they left off last season. Home/away match-ups point to this being a seven game series along home court lines.

#3 Dallas Mavericks vs. #6 Houston Rockets

Dallas is up 2-1 in the season series, but the fun part came in Friday’s Rockets victory in Dallas. Mark Cuban wants the last 1:01 of overtime replayed due to a controversial ejection call, and he filed an official complaint with the NBA. The $10,000 processing fee seems excessive, especially since Dallas is a balanced team that will probably win relatively easily anyway.

#4 Phoenix Suns vs. #5 Portland Trailblazers

A home loss to the Thunder? Phoenix’ stock is falling faster than Fannie and Freddie. That makes it a two-game losing streak to Portland’s three-game winning streak. If Portland is careful enough at home, which should be easy enough, and given Phoenix’s recent penchant for losing at home, don’t count Portland out just yet.

East:

#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Charlotte Bobcats

22-5 vs. 11-16. Yeah, that’s not lopsided at all. Charlotte is 1-12 on the road but 10-4 at home. However, Boston is 12-1 on the road, and has already destroyed the Bobcats multiple times this season. The Bobcats have had trouble putting together a credible streak this season, and it will show against Boston.

#2 Orlando Magic vs. #7 Milwaukee Bucks

The Magic are 12-2 at home vs. 3-9 on the road for the Bucks. It’s not looking good for the Bucks. On November 28, the Bucks, at home, managed to hold the Magic to a two point victory, but that road/away match-up is fairly balanced, so we’ll have to wait until next Wednesday’s game in Orlando to see how they’ll match up there.

#3 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #6 Toronto Raptors

It took until overtime, but the Cavaliers exploded to beat the Kings on the road 117-104. That makes it two straight for Cleveland, compared with three in a row for Toronto. However, Toronto is still only 14-17. And they’re 5-12 on the road. Starting to sound familiar?

#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Miami Heat

Miami actually has a winning road record (5-4), but Atlanta is that much better at home (12-2). It really goes to show you how elite the East’s echelon of teams is when the closets series features teams that are 5.0 games apart. Anyone noticing a pattern here?

What Might Change Next Week:

  • If the Knicks can get past the Heat and Spurs, their reward is the Pistons and Nets. Oklahoma City stands in the way of the Bobcats and Wizards. A spot in the East’s brackets is on the line in all this.
  • DAL @ DEN on Sunday decides #2 in the West.
  • Tough games against the Lakers and Celtics leave the Suns vulnerable to the Trailblazers, especially if the Blazers can get past Denver.
  • If the Rockets have trouble against Cleveland, they could similarly end up giving #6 to San Antonio.

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