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Another week in, and there are some noticeable changes. The East has a new leader. The Heat are collapsing. The tops of the conferences are starting to see some separation, while the lower part of the seeding is trying to establish itself. But it’s still very tight in between, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Sunday, January 15, before the day’s games:
Dallas may have won five in a row to return to form, and they’re only half a game behind the Spurs, but San Antonio has not yet lost at home. They also haven’t won on the road, but Dallas isn’t a very good road team yet.
The Clippers are on the rise, thanks to the addition of Chris Paul to go with Blake Griffin and the rest of the crew. They’ve done very well at the Staples Center this year, while the Jazz haven’t been very good away from Utah. The sheer closeness of everyone in the West make this the story line that’ll decide this series like all the others.
New York has done okay, but they still have some issues to work through to gel together and win much more. Philadelphia is 9-3, including a perfect 5-0 at home. Despite the Knickerbockers’ star power, Philadelphia should carry the day.
After starting 8-1, the Heat have lost three in a row. The Pacers are also 5-0 at home, and are on a three-game winning streak. If the Big Three can get healthy and mesh together, the Heat always have a chance, but right now, the Pacers are too good otherwise.
This should be the closet match of the first round by far. Orlando only has the division lead over Atlanta by percentage points, and both teams have just one home loss and four road wins. The teams have not faced each other yet, but the Magic are 2-0 in the division, though in a larger sample size the Hawks are 4-1. However, both of those Orlando wins were against the two worst teams in the NBA, while Atlanta has dealt with Miami twice. It’s pretty much a coin flip, but with better performances against more quality teams, Atlanta has what they need to pull off the upset.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz