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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 19

Spurs vs Celtics: Week 13's prediction for the NBA Finals

Just over a month remains in the season, and the Miami Heat got the highest ever rating on SportsCenter’s panic meter (9.99). The Lakers are on a roll, and Chicago has quietly positioned themselves as a legitimate contender, just 2.5 games out of the East’s lead. Each half of the bracket is starting to pull away a little from the teams on the outside looking in. Contrary to popular belief, the trades have been helping Boston stay on top, holding off former minion Tom Thibodeau. With the way things are going, a pecking order might be emerging, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, March 8, before the day’s games:

West

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs #8 Memphis Grizzlies

San Antonio disappointed themselves by losing to the Lakers, but didn’t cry like little girls like Miami. Memphis surprisingly won in Dallas, but they still have to figure out a way to take four of seven against the Spurs, including at least one in San Antonio. That’s probably not going to happen.

#2 Dallas Mavericks vs #7 New Orleans Hornets

Memphis blip aside, losses are still very few and far between for Dallas. New Orleans has continued to slip down the seeding. One outlier performance won’t cut it; New Orleans can’t win a series from Dallas. Plus, Chris Paul is concussed.

#3 Los Angeles Lakers vs #6 Portland Trail Blazers

Los Angeles has won seven in a row, and has really been stepping up their game lately. Portland has been doing a bit of the same, but when the Lakers get cooking, no 1st round opponent has a chance.

#4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #5 Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are doing quite nicely. Oklahoma is recovering nicely themselves from that losing streak setback. The Nuggets may be good, but they’re still abysmal on the road, which could very well end up being the Thunder’s saving grace.

East

#1 Boston Celtics vs #8 Indiana Pacers

Boston‘s new roster has won them five games in a row. The Pacers have lost their last three, and are 3-7 in their last 10. Boston all the way.

#2 Chicago Bulls vs #7 Philadelphia 76ers

The NBA’s ultimate sleeper team is still unbeaten in their division, and is a muscular 27-4 at home. It’s Chicago, in case you were wondering. But don’t knock Philadelphia just yet; they’re 8-2 in their last 10, a streak that started with a win over San Antonio. Still, most of their recent wins were against less than great opponents, so Chicago still has the edge.

#3 Miami Heat vs #6 New York Knicks

With a four-game losing streak, during which they cried in the locker room, Miami is spiraling into a much worse position than a #3 seed would indicate. Even with Chauncey Billups resting, the Knicks have figured out how to win. It’s not that the Knicks are built to win this year, but the Heat are apparently built to lose, which they very well might do in the 1st round.

#4 Orlando Magic vs #5 Atlanta Hawks

The last Magic loss can be attributed to Dwight Howard being suspended for 16 technicals. Too bad Stan Van Gundy can’t have an opinion about it, because he’d be right that it’s completely unfair. But Atlanta isn’t exactly doing well right now either. With a 2.5-game lead over Atlanta, Orlando should do alright.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Not much really, but Portland could push Denver into position to face the Lakers in Round 1.

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