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A full ten weeks into the season, plenty of surprises are still in place. The Bobcats and Bucks are still hanging onto playoff spots, as are the Thunder. Even the Clippers, who were up by nine at the half “at home” against the Lakers late, are just three games out of the brackets. And the Pistons have lost eleven in a row? And the Nets wouldn’t even be in if you quintupled their win total? At least the Celtics are back on top again. So many teams with glory, so many with shame, so many scenarios to examine if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 6 at 11:30 pm (sans the late game):
The Lakers have their all too familiar stranglehold on the West, while the Thunder just beat out the Jazz via tiebreakers. The Lakers are the NBA’s first 20-game home winner, and are 8-3 on the road. The Thunder have been a good team this year, better than anyone could have thought, but they’re just not good enough to dethrone the Lakers.
Dallas has proven to be balanced, equally capable of winning at home or away. Houston is 10-4 at home, but 10-12 on the road, and has lost its last three. They’re just 0.5 games away from dropping out of the brackets, and will have a hard time against a Mavericks team that hasn’t looked this good in several years.
Phoenix has recovered some of its early swagger, winning its last two, while Portland has lost its last two. With both teams mediocre on the road but good at home, this has the makings of a seven game series tipped in the Suns’ favor. That is, unless the Suns can’t fully regain their home court momentum from the season’s beginning.
By virtue of a better winning percentage, the lesser seeded Spurs have home court advantage. They’ll make good use of it, as the home/away records are much like the Suns/Blazers match-up. And Denver just barely beat the Warriors by one on free throws Tuesday. The Warriors. That’s a pyrrhic victory if I ever saw one.
Let’s give Milwaukee credit for winning their last two, but if you’ll remember they hung in the brackets for a long while last year before falling apart at the end. And with a 4-11 road record against the Celtics’ 11-4 home record, Milwaukee will need an exceptional performance they will be unlikely to produce in order to pull off a win.
Now that they’re away from the Celtics in the 1st round, the Bobcats should have fun with this. They may be 3-14 on the road, but one of those wins was in Cleveland. They also won a home game against the Cavs as well. Beating Cleveland twice in a season shows that the Bobcats can and will take it to the Cavs, and could definitely pull off the major upset.
The Magic have won the season series against Toronto 3-1, but that one loss was in Orlando Wednesday night. And only once were the Magic able to win by double digits. Even with a poor 6-13 road record, the Raptors could pull off the upset, riding a two game winning streak to the Magics’ three game losing streak. And with Turkoglu bring Magic strategy with him to Toronto, perhaps Toronto is holding back a strategy in case this playoff match-up does occur.
After a back and forth game with the Celtics, the Heat gift wrapped the game for Boston, while Atlanta is still looking like it could become an elite team any season now, only 1.5 games behind the Magic for the division. Hovering around .500, the Heat could struggle against the Hawks, especially since it’s entirely possible that the Hawks will pick off a game in Miami but not give one up in Atlanta.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors