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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, NBA Playoffs, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz