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2012 is coming to a close, but it’s not doing much to change the volatility in the NBA standings. Both conferences have new leaders. The races to fill out the bracket are as close as ever. Truly, no team is safe, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, December 26, before the day’s games:
Oklahoma City has lost two in a row, but that doesn’t mean they did much of anything wrong. They flew from Atlanta to Minnesota overnight, then visited Miami on Christmas. True, one of those two losses was to Minnesota, but the Timberwolves’ road issues and OKC’s superior talent pool should allow the Thunder to move into the next round.
Houston has won four games in a row, by an average of 20+ points. Two road wins in that streak (New York and Chicago) helped up their credibility away from Houston. The Spurs are still hanging around in the race for #1, just 1.5 games back. San Antonio would get the edge (5.0 games ahead of Houston), but with Houston’s latest run, an upset for Lin-Sanity wouldn’t exactly be a big surprise.
Memphis is still 12-2 at home, but Golden State isn’t exactly slouching. Memphis, as good as they are, are barely above .500 on the road, while Golden State is just as good wherever they play. With Golden State sticking around the way they are, all they need is a good road win to pull off the upset.
The Hawks have slipped a bit in relation to the Heat and Knicks, but they’re still a very firm #3. The Bucks are down there in standings with the Nets and Celtics, and are a lesser road team than the Hawks. Milwaukee is close enough to make things interesting in Milwaukee, but they likely won’t be able to keep up with Atlanta for too long.
Indiana has nudged their way ahead of Chicago by half a game; a three-game winning streak against a two-game losing streak will do that. Chicago is doing well enough to hold their relative position in the standings, while Indiana has lost at home just three times on the season. But with Derrick Rose’s return expected fairly early in the new year, give or take, the Bulls will be looking up if they can avoid falling below the middle of the bracket.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Playoffs, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs