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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 8

Clippers vs Heat: Week 8's prediction for the NBA Finals

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:

West

#1 Los Angeles Clippers vs #8 Denver Nuggets

The Clippers have won 14 straight games, surging ahead in the West. Denver needs to get a LOT better on the road to stand any chance, something they found out the hard way on Christmas.

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #7 Minnesota Timberwolves

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.

#3 San Antonio Spurs vs #6 Houston Rockets

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.

#4 Memphis Grizzlies vs #5 Golden State Warriors

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.

East

#1 Miami Heat vs #8 Boston Celtics

Miami has won five straight. Boston is still struggling to stay above .500. There’s no question that Miami’s talent and energy should easily carry them ahead of an iffy Boston squad.

#2 New York Knicks vs #7 Brooklyn Nets

Similarly, New York leads the East with 20 wins, while Brooklyn continues their slide from their early season success. New York should win this one as handily as well.

#3 Atlanta Hawks vs #6 Milwaukee Bucks

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.

#4 Indiana Pacers vs #5 Chicago Bulls

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.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • The Lakers have won five straight, finally having found some mojo. That could easily finally get them into the playoff scenario at Denver’s expense.

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