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Another week is gone, but some special things have happened. Cleveland became the first team to win 50 games, which if you look back on the last couple of years, anoints them as the next NBA champions. Cleveland has also become the first team to clinch a spot in the playoffs, while New Jersey (on pace to win nine), Minnesota, and Golden State have been eliminated from playoff contention. And with the Celtics’ 20-point loss (yes, 20, twenty, veinte, XX) to Memphis, they’ve lost as many home games (12) this year as the previous two years combined. With the playoff situation starting to finalize, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, March 10 at 11:00pm:
Is there any better clutch player in the game than Kobe? He did his thing again Tuesday to beat the Raptors and end the Lakers’ skid. At 30-5 at home, the Lakers are the NBA’s best home team. If they can work on their road issues, they’ll repeat as champions. But for now, the Blazers won’t be able to deal with them.
Dallas has stretched their winning streak to 13 games, but how did the Nets lead them for so long and so much? Seriously, Doc Rivers, how does that happen? Still, everyone gets an opportunity to prove a tough game was a fluke. Dallas leads the season series 2-1, so San Antonio will struggle for most of the series, especially since they’re used to being a higher seed.
Both teams are great at home but sub-par on the road. Denver has won their last four while Phoenix’s win streak is at one, and Denver leads Phoenix by 3.5 games. However, Phoenix does lead the season series 2-1, including a win in Denver. The Nuggets will get a chance to prove they can win in Phoenix on April 13. If they don’t, they’ll still be the favorites, but Phoenix will be in their heads, especially since said game will be Denver’s last and Phoneix’s next to last of the season.
Much like the Nuggets/Suns, both teams are reasonably similar this year, but the Jazz don’t have Kevin Durant, and they’ve lost both meetings so far. Still, with 2.5 games separating the two, this is the closest match of the playoffs. Home court advantage will guide the series, but by no means will be the deciding factor, as either team could wind up losing to the Lakers.
Miami is struggling mightily to hold onto their spot, only a game ahead of Chicago. Cleveland is wholly expected to at least advance to the finals, if not win them. Everything points to Cleveland tearing through the Heat. After all, Lebron James + Shaq > Dwayne Wade.
Riding a six-game win streak, the Magic are looking good, being the first team to win 30 games in their conference. Charlotte has won their last four, though, to catapult themselves back into the seeding. But, the Magic have won all three meetings so far this year. Charlotte is the only playoff team without at least 10 road wins, and one of 10 teams overall. The city of Charlotte may help extend the series, but it would only be delaying the inevitable.
Toronto may be down 3-0 in the season series, but Boston just doesn’t seem to want to try, as evidenced by their destruction at home to Memphis. Boston is a sporadic team, with a good spurt here and a few bad spurts there. Unless Boston can miraculously get the chemistry together and play hard for all instead of some of 48 minutes, Toronto won’t have too much trouble advancing.
Milwaukee is actually sitting pretty comfortable in the #5 spot, having won four in a row and 10 of their last 11. Both teams have even been working on getting better on the road. In their only match-up so far this season, Atlanta won 106-102 in Atlanta. Milwaukee could make things interesting if they play the way they did against Boston, but Atlanta should still pull through.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz