|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Ah, the East. Where you can be .381 and still make the playoffs. Where #5 and #6 can both be better than #4. And then there’s the West. Where a team that would challenge in the East is middle of the pack. Meanwhile, Dallas has built up 10 straight wins to challenge the Spurs, who did the same (12 straight, actually) earlier in the season before dropping a game to the very same Dallas Mavericks. The Celtics have built a 1.5-game lead over Orlando out East behind seven straight wins, thanks in no small part to Kryptonate stepping up with Rondo out. The East’s #8 spot is a tie, while the West’s is within a game, so without a clear pecking order, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, December 8, before the day’s games:
9-2 at home, and 8-1 on the road? The Spurs are back in the driver’s seat, looking for another title. Never mind that their one road loss was to the Clippers: they have beaten New Orleans since, Phoenix is 5-7 on the road, and San Antonio already won in Phoenix. The Suns may make it more interesting than the Spurs would like, but this is San Antonio’s series in the end.
The Thunder are 14-8, 7-4 each at home and away, and they have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the Mavericks have been that much better. Don’t listen to Francine Smith; Dirk Nowitzki is not soft, and Ron Artest isn’t even a power forward. This was supposed to be Durant’s MVP year, but the Thunder have been struggling to differentiate themselves from last season. The Mavericks are having no such problems.
The Nuggets are an NBA-best 10-1 at home, which can only mean they’re abysmal on the road (3-6) to be at #6. Unlike Denver, the 16-6 Jazz can win easily at home or away. It looks like the Carmelo Anthony trade talks have ruffled up a few feathers with Enos Stan Kroenke.
The Magic most recently hosted Atlanta, gave up just 80 points, and lost. And before that they lost in Milwaukee. However, they’ve already won in Indiana (twice if you count the preseason). And not only is Indiana just barely over .500, but Orlando is significantly better than that (perennially).
Seriously, how did the Knickerbockers win five straight to earn a better record than Chicago? And that’s despite being 4-5 at home. Atlanta already won at MSG, but is only 7-5 at home in their own right. Atlanta had a tough time against Milwaukee in the last 1st round, and with New York’s road record, this could be the big upset of Round 1.
After five straight wins, could the Heat finally be starting to live up to the hype? Talk to me again when that streak reaches 20. Though two of those five wins were in Milwaukee and Cleveland (I know, big deal). Chicago is 7-2 at home, but due to records, Miami has the home-court edge. If Miami keeps up their winning ways, they could regain their status as favorites.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz