|Jon Lester Served First Loss in 6-4 Defeat to Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox||Avery Bradley’s Role With the Celtics: Present and Future||Connelly’s Top Ten: Bruins Up 2-0||2013 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: Third Round|
The season’s cruising along, and it won’t be long before we’re talking playoffs. As expected, the Lakers have a comfortable West lead, and the Cavaliers are right back where they were last season. And thanks to some recent good fortune, so are the Celtics. The East’s final spots have stabilized nicely, while the West’s final spots are still up in the air.
And New Jersey won, to improve its record to a very good (for New Jersey) 4-40 (.091). Only 30.5 games out of the top seed with 38 games left? They can pull it off. With all signs pointing to a Cavs/Lakers showdown, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 27 at 11:15pm (sans the late games):
Ever since the Suns made such a surprising start, we all were hoping to see this match-up eventually. The Suns have now dropped 9.5 games behind the Lakers, and if they don’t pick things up soon, will fade out of the playoff picture like late last year. And they’re 9-15 on the road, while the Lakers are 23-3 in home games.
Three straight, and the Grizzlies are relevant for the first time in team history. Still, the Nuggets have won eight. And they’re 21-3 at home. Memphis is 8-14 on the road. Like the Lakers, the Nuggets will clean up easily.
The Mavericks play well at home and away, while Portland is .500 on the road. Portland has looked a tad shaky lately, at the same time Dallas has started to regain their form. Being one of four teams so far with 30 wins, Mark Cuban’s team will get another chance to make a legitimate run at an NBA title.
The Jazz have won three straight, while San Antonio beat the Hawks Wednesday to end an ugly three game losing streak. Both teams are far better at home, but Utah has swept the four game season series against the Spurs, which will make it very difficult for the Spurs to figure out the Jazz when the games matter more than ever.
Cleveland has won six, while Charlotte won another game in Phoenix Tuesday after having their winning streak dashed. Charlotte’s beaten Cleveland twice this season, but Cleveland has been surging in the right direction, and won’t be so willing to let that transgression happen again.
This one will be fun. Chicago is suddenly hot, winning four in a row. Boston has won two after losing too many. Chicago’s still not the best road team, and Boston has been trying to get their home mojo back. Whatever happens, this has the makings to be another classic. Seven more overtimes, anyone?
Miami took it to Atlanta last year, but will they fare better with Atlanta as a division winner? Atlanta’s 15-point loss in San Antonio provides hope. Still, Atlanta will have the edge in both cities. The home team has split both games so far, by double digits each time, so it looks like a repeat of last year is a good possibility.
Toronto’s making a push, bush Orlando is still the better team. It’s another one of those home court advantages (16-4 vs. 8-16). The Magic won the season series 3-1, so that’s another indicator of what’s to come.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz