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After one more week, things are looking quite different. Two unbeatens remain, and the top of the East is starting to sort of look how some expected it to. The Hornets and Lakers are still dueling for top honors; they first meet in New Orleans on December 29, which would make for a huge game if both teams somehow remain unbeaten until then. The Timberwolves and Clippers are bringing up the rear for the league, followed closely by Charlotte, Toronto, Houston, and Washington. New Jersey’s back to their own miserable selves, but there are still plenty of teams in both conferences who aren’t losing terribly and in the race, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, November 10, before the day’s games:
The Grizz are beating out three other teams for #8 because they beat Sacramento. But the Hornets are 7-0, a franchise best. And they managed to knock off Miami’s Big Three. Tony Allen’s Celtics experience won’t be enough to help Memphis defeat a retooled team.
The Jazz don’t seem to have very good luck with the Lakers in the playoffs. But they still orchestrated a huge comeback in Miami. But then again, Miami’s coach looks like he’s 12, and he’s no Zen Master. The Heat have the brawn, but the Lakers have the brains, and that will give them the series. Again.
Speaking of playoff series that always seem to happen… Neither team has lost on the road, and the Mavs just beat the Celtics, but the old guys are ailing again, so that win shouldn’t mean much. The Spurs have won their last four, and are once again looking like a challenger. History suggests that the Spurs are the only one of these teams that can make a good run and make it stick.
With the new seeding regulations, the Warriors have the better record. And they’re a perfect 4-0 at home. But Portland is a more balanced team as far as home/away goes. With that in mind, and with Portland’s more recent playoff experience, it’ll be close, but Portland gets the slight nod.
Once again, a sub-.500 team is in the playoff situation. Too bad for New York that the Magic, under J.R.R. Tolkien’s forgotten hobbit Stan Van Gundy, are a muscular 5-1, and 4-0 in Orlando. Magic for the sweep.
Larry Bird’s Pacers are just .500, and while the Celtics may be hurting, they’re still very experienced. They should easily be able to take down a Pacers team that doesn’t share that aspect. Sure, the Pacers should pick off one game, but that just makes it even more like the Miami series last playoffs.
The Hawks are 6-2, after a 6-0 start. However, they’re still 4-1 on the road, and Chicago has yet to win on the road. Maybe it’s the Scalabrine curse, but let’s face it, Atlanta’s taking an easy win at this rate.
Once again, a #5 team has a better record than their opponent. But with Miami being in the same division as the Hawks and Magic, you had to expect this situation. Cleveland is a much better road team, but Miami is a better home team. And Cleveland is sub-.500 at home. Miami should definitely advance, which makes this seed a good path for them based on how they handled the Magic earlier. Whatever happens, be sure to watch LeBron’s return to Cleveland on December 2.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz