"Pro Wrestling," NES 2014 MLB Playoffs Expert Picks: World Series Results Rajon Rondo (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports) Celtics, Rondo impress in Season Opener Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY SPORTS Celtics Receive No Love from Vegas Former Red Sox Jake Peavy got the hook just one out into the second inning as the Royals scored seven times en route to a 10-0 win and a decisive Game 7. (NY Times) Former Red Sox Peavy Shelled as Royals Force Game 7 in World Series

If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 3

Bulls vs Thunder: Week 3's prediction for the NBA Finals

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:

West

#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #8 Portland Trail Blazers

Portland has won its last three while Oklahoma City has won its last six. With 3.5 games separating them already, Oklahoma shouldn’t have any trouble.

#2 San Antonio Spurs vs #7 Dallas Mavericks

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.

#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs #6 Utah Jazz

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.

#4 Denver Nuggets vs #5 Los Angeles Lakers

That pattern certainly isn’t absent here. Both teams do much better at home, but the Lakers even lost a “road” game in L.A. against the Clippers. The home team (Denver) once again has the edge here.

East

#1 Chicago Bulls vs #8 Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers have a losing record, while the Bulls are the best team in the NBA. Chicago all the way.

#2 Philadelphia 76ers vs #7 New York Knicks

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.

#3 Indiana Pacers vs #6 Miami Heat

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.

#4 Orlando Magic vs #5 Atlanta Hawks

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.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • It should be a slow week for changes, but Atlanta has a good chance to take the division from Orlando.

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