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Just two more weeks to go and we’ll know who makes it into the playoffs. Nine of 16 spots are punched so far, including three of the six divisions. Some of the top teams are having pretty big struggles, and others are taking advantage. Memphis is building a little bit of space out west, while Charlotte is closing the gap on Indiana in the East. With 10 games left to play, Cleveland is two games behind Minnesota for worst team in the league. Talk about first to worst. Some teams may be in comfortable positions, but others still have plenty to fight for, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, March 29, before the day’s games:
The Spurs are on a four-game losing streak, which is only their second losing streak of the season (the first being just two games). The Grizzlies, most recently, beat San Antonio. However, they haven’t been able to win in San Antonio this season. If Duncan and Ginobli return healthy, the Spurs should still be able to dispatch with Memphis.
The Lakers have won seven in a row, and rest just 3.5 games behind San Antonio. New Orleans is still hanging in there at #7, but has room for movement in either direction. They’re still sub-.500 on the road, too. The Hornets looked so good in November, but not so in April.
The Blazers won in San Antonio Monday; that’s worth something. But the Mavericks have won four in a row, and are always a tough out. Dallas is lethal away or at home, and Portland is much more potent at home. Overall, with Kidd and Nowitzki leading the charge, the Mavericks have the edge.
The Thunder have won three in a row, nine of ten, and 12 of 14. Denver is just as difficult to defeat lately, and it turns out trading ‘Melo was actually a huge help. This’ll be a tactical slugfest, and could potentially come down to home-court advantage; Denver is still sub-.500 on the road overall anyway.
The last time the Bulls lost consecutive games was in the first week of February. Sixers aside, they’re a very talented team with leading candidates for MVP and Coach of the Year. At 33-42, Indiana just can do it in a best-of-seven series.
Before Monday, the Knicks had been working on a six-game losing streak, and had lost nine of ten. Not that Boston is impressive right now; they’re not. Still, the Knicks’ personalities can’t gel together properly without an extensive training camp, and past experience has shown Doc Rivers to rest his best guys more than usual down the stretch; that usually works pretty well.
You can’t predict Miami, but they’re on a five-game winning streak at the moment. Even in that, they haven’t looked their best. What is their best, anyway? Philadelphia hasn’t been looking good lately, and they did get swept in the season series 3-0, so Miami should live to fight at least another round.
Orlando‘s lead over Atlanta is now a whole five games, with eight to play. Orlando has also been playing a little better lately, and has the big man and shooting talent they need to overcome Atlanta, which shouldn’t be a terrible problem.
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