Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park, this time in a Yankees uniform. Should the Red Sox faithful bring out the boo birds? (The Boston Globe) To Boo or Not to Boo? Ellsbury Returns to Boston with Yankees Jacoby Yankees vs. Red Sox: Round 2 in Boston Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman (Jesse Johnson, USA Today Sports) 2014 NFL Draft Profile: Ra’Shede Hageman Miami is facing perhaps their toughest road yet to a title, with Indiana and several West teams waiting in the wings. (erh.noaa.gov) 2014 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round

If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 6

Thunder vs Bulls: Week 6's prediction for the NBA Finals

Another week by, and the All-Star starters are already in place. Only one, Carmelo Anthony, isn’t from a currently seeded team, so it should be a good game. In the meantime, teams are still shaking things up. Houston is falling while Miami is going back up. But Chicago and Oklahoma City are still running the show. But what’s happening in the meantime? Let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Sunday, February 5, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #8 Dallas Mavericks

All of a sudden, Dallas has lost three in a row. They’re still getting better, but not nearly enough to take down Oklahoma City.

#2 Los Angeles Clippers vs #7 Los Angeles Lakers

You can pretty much throw out home/away ratings here, but the Lakers are struggling at the bottom of the bracket, despite being just 1.5 games behind the Clippers. The teams are 1-1 against each other so far, but the Clippers were 2-0 in the pre-season. The Lakers are essentially carried by Kobe Bryant, while Chris Paul and Blake Griffin lead the entertaining Clippers. Without big man Lamar Odom, it’ll be tough for the Lakers to defend the Clippers’ pounding style of attack.

#3 San Antonio Spurs vs #6 Portland Trail Blazers

Neither team is very good on the road, so advantage Spurs. But San Antonio also has the advantage of riding a four-game winning streak, so momentum is not in the favor of the Blazers either.

#4 Denver Nuggets vs #5 Utah Jazz

Utah is great at home, but poor on the road. And Denver is pretty decent on the road themselves, which will only make things tougher on Utah.

East

#1 Chicago Bulls vs #8 Milwaukee Bucks

Chicago is still running the show. Milwaukee has put up some impressive performances lately (ask Miami), but but they still can’t hang with the best of them on a consistent basis.

#2 Miami Heat vs #7 Boston Celtics

Boston has won three in a row, finally getting above .500 again. But Toronto aside, they’ve had real problems getting and holding leads. With the explosiveness behind Miami‘s younger, stronger Big Three, the Heat should still be able to pull out a win.

#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs #6 Orlando Magic

All of a sudden, the Magic have won three straight. But Philadelphia has the better conference record, and they’re 12-3 at home. The one time they met this season (in Philadelphia), the 76ers were limited to 74 points, but the Magic only scored 69. Philadelphia still has the edge.

#4 Indiana Pacers vs #5 Atlanta Hawks

Both teams are close; Indiana is only ahead because they have a game in hand on Atlanta. Both teams are good at home and away. Indiana does have only two home losses and 10 road wins, so they may have to rely on their home crowd four times to put them over the edge if they are to win.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Not much looks to change, but the best chance seems to be if Cleveland beats Milwaukee, then either Philadelphia or the Clippers, then if Milwaukee drops another game.

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