"Pro Wrestling," NES 2014 MLB Playoffs Expert Picks: World Series Results Rajon Rondo (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports) Celtics, Rondo impress in Season Opener Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY SPORTS Celtics Receive No Love from Vegas Former Red Sox Jake Peavy got the hook just one out into the second inning as the Royals scored seven times en route to a 10-0 win and a decisive Game 7. (NY Times) Former Red Sox Peavy Shelled as Royals Force Game 7 in World Series

If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 9

Lakers vs Celtics: Week 9's prediction for the NBA Finals

Coming up on the end of 2009, the NBA season still has plenty of excitement left. Three East teams are still sub-.500 and in the playoff picture. The Lakers are taking control of the West while the East is once more up for grabs. A six-game Cavaliers winning streak is the longest active one in the NBA, giving them plenty of momentum. Seeding shakeups have been plentiful and should continue that trend, so now let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, December 30 at 10:45pm (sans the late games):

West:

#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #8 Utah Jazz

The Lakers have an .806 winning percentage, the only NBA team above .800. A 6-9 road record for the Jazz leaves much to be desired. Just like last year, the Lakers should have an easy time throwing around the Jazz. With a 17-3 Staples Center record, who’s going to stop them?

#2 Dallas Mavericks vs. #7 Houston Rockets

Aside from the Lakers, the Mavericks are the only West team to not have at least 10 losses. The Rockets aren’t too shabby either, and are even a good road team. They next play Thursday in Houston to conclude the season series. It may be close, but those games indicate an advantage for the Mavericks.

#3 Denver Nuggets vs. #6 Portland Trailblazers

After losing their last three, the Nuggets are reeling. Being only 0.5 games behind them, the Blazers will certainly jump out of the gate to take advantage. Still, Denver is 13-2 at home, so the Blazers will have to rely on Denver’s poor road record and use their prowess to pick off a game in Denver if they want to be taken seriously.

#4 Phoenix Suns vs. #5 San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have won three in a row, but Phoenix look impressive late against Boston, though who can’t beat the Celtics nowadays? Once again, this looks to be a home-team dominated series, with a possible pickoff here or there. San Antonio has won eight of their last ten, though, so they have done better lately.

East:

#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Charlotte Bobcats

An easy match-up, but the reeling Celtics, who are dropping like flies lately, were trailing by double digits late in Phoenix, putting them in a prime position to hand the East’s top seed to Cleveland. If a poor Hawks team could push a good Celtics team to Game 7 two years ago, these depleted Celtics are in serious trouble.

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #7 Chicago Bulls

The Cavs have won their last six to re-solidify themselves as an Eastern contender. A 13-2 home record to the Bulls’ 2-11 road record pretty much tells you how this series will go. Though Chicago did win in Cleveland earlier in the season. Lighting didn’t strike twice the next month, but that game will be on the back of Clevelands’ minds.

#3 Orlando Magic vs. #6 Toronto Raptors

Toronto’s won five straight in their own right, but they’re also 5-11 on the road. The Magic beat the Bucks by 25 points on Wednesday, showing Christmas Day won’t turn into an everyday thing for them. Orlando’s balanced home/away attack should solidify the series for them.

#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Miami Heat

When these teams met last year, each team picked off a road game, and all seven games were decided by at least 10 points. Atlanta just keeps getting better from year to year, but they’re coming off two losses to Cleveland in as many nights, so Miami will definitely take advantage of Atlanta’s record moving the wrong way.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • The Jazz visit the Thunder Thursday in what could very well help determine the #8 slot in the West.
  • Charlotte faces three teams next week better than they are. Milwaukee is knocking on the door of the East’s bracket.

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