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It won’t be long now until the playoffs begin, and there’s still a lot to be decided. Except for the Spurs, every playoff team is at most 2.5 games away from their nearest competition. The trade deadline passed, with spectacular results. Now, cuts will be looking for a new team in time to be playoff eligible. Injuries are still plentiful, especially in Boston, but teams are adapting well to the situations. With just about nothing except for San Antonio’s home-court advantage certain, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, March 1, before the day’s games:
Portland had a six-game winning streak going, but stretch out the time frame and they’re pretty average overall, though with some impressive wins in there. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have an active six-game winning streak going, and have won 17 of 19. Dallas will be quite tough to beat.
The Nuggets haven’t exactly been imploding since the ‘Melo trade, but they haven’t exactly been exploding either. The Lakers are back on the crest of their wave, but they have been known to go down to the trough every now and then this season. If they avoid that, then they’ll beat Denver.
Neither team is at its best right now. Oklahoma is on its first three-game losing streak of the season. New Orleans is 3-7 in its last 10. Still, the Thunder have more well-known pieces, and are in a rather comfortable position in the standings.
Through all the injuries, Boston is regrouping quite nicely with their new roster. Indiana has been kind of streaky this season. They’re 5-5 in their last 10, and sit at 26-32. When Boston has all their players at their disposal, it’s not easy to do anything about it, unless you’re fortunate enough to catch them in the middle of one of their terrible 3rd quarters.
Philadelphia has won their last four, but that just got them above .500. Miami has had a few issues with the better teams, but they have too much talent to simply ignore. Especially in the first round, Miami should overwhelm their competition.
New York lost in Cleveland, then won in Miami? What happened? New York’s better, but they’re not really built for victory this year. Chicago is built for victory, as evidenced by Joakim Noah’s clinic in Chicago’s 28-point thrashing of Washington. Even Brian Scalabrine (or as he’s now known, the White Mamba) got some playing time. You know you’re doing well when Scal gets to play.
The Magic have been getting steadily better in their last 10 games. The Hawks have been going a tad the other way. As a result, Orlando has a two-game lead over Atlanta (1.5 with the tiebreaker). The Hawks have made a few move to jiggle themselves around a bit, but Orlando has Dwight Howard and showed their commitment to winning with their massive trade earlier in the season. It’ll still be a close series, but at 23-9 at home, Orlando has the edge.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs