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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 12

Thunder vs Heat: Week 12's prediction for the NBA Finals

12 weeks into the season, we finally have two #1 teams remaining the same from the previous week. The Heat are creating a bit of space while the Thunder have some tough competition at the top. The West is also producing some additional teams fighting for the last playoff spots, while the East is pretty set for the moment, even with Boston’s struggles. What does all this mean for the teams in the playoff hunt? Let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 23, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #8 Houston Rockets

The Rockets are spiraling downward, only a game ahead of Portland now. Oklahoma City is just way too good to fall to the kind of team the Rockets currently are.

#2 San Antonio Spurs vs #7 Utah Jazz

The Jazz have won three straight, but the Spurs have won five. San Antonio is consistently one of the best teams in the NBA, and they don’t appear ready to go home early in the postseason.

#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs #6 Denver Nuggets

Los Angeles is down to #3 after two losses, but that doesn’t mean Denver will have it easy. Los Angeles is still very good at home, and Denver is 9-15 on the road. Los Angeles still has the edge, but they’ll likely wear themselves out against Denver either way.

#4 Memphis Grizzlies vs #5 Golden State Warriors

Memphis is still ahead by a game, but they just can’t shake Golden State. And the Grizzlies recently swung a deal with Cleveland to dump salary and get under the luxury tax mark. With the playoff race so close, this move might help keep Memphis’ core together, but they won’t get much of anywhere if they don’t have enough depth to rest their core now and then.

East

#1 Miami Heat vs #8 Boston Celtics

All of a sudden, Boston has lost four straight. There’s no way Miami will let them get way with that.

#2 New York Knicks vs #7 Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee may have won three in a row, but all three wins have been against severely struggling teams. That helps cushion the blow of New York‘s own struggles, but Milwaukee can’t be completely dismissed. If New York gets into a good routine, they should be able to pull off the win, but Milwaukee will force a much longer series than the Knicks would like.

#3 Indiana Pacers vs #6 Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta is trying to recover, but they’re only half a game ahead of Milwaukee. The Pacers may have a losing road record, but they’re still a much better team than Atlanta at this point in time.

#4 Brooklyn Nets vs #5 Chicago Bulls

Brooklyn has only lost once all month, but Chicago remains just half a game behind. At 12-5 on the road, Chicago actually has the NBA’s best road record. And Derrick Rose is getting even closer to a return.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Chicago is looking up, especially with Indiana having tough games in Utah and Denver.

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