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Two weeks into the season is a great time for surprise teams to make an early impression, and that’s been happening so far. Miami isn’t the one running away with things. Houston and Brooklyn are having trouble establishing themselves. Phoenix, Portland, Charlotte and Philadelphia are all among the teams doing fairly well early. Everyone has won a game so far as well in the initial effort to solidify a rough standing for the season, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 14 before the day’s games:
The Spurs still have it, going 8-1 so far. Their wise and talented group of veterans will make San Antonio a contender for as long as they feel like playing. The Mavericks are already showing signs of being a much better home team, and with their roster centering around Dirk Nowitzki, they once again look to have a tough time as a lower playoff seed if they can make it through a difficult conference.
Portland has rattled off victories in their last four games to move to 6-2, good for #2 in the West. And they’re the only team so far to beat San Antonio. Golden State came very close to matching that feat, and they have more recent playoff experience. And with players like Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala on board, the Warriors have a good team brewing.
Not many people expected the Suns to make much noise this season, but they have. In particular, they lost several tough road games by close margins (Oklahoma City by seven, San Antonio by three, Portland by one). They’ve been good early, but the Thunder are good at all times, so despite Phoenix’ contention in early games, that won’t make things easy at all on them.
The Timberwolves are up there, thanks in no small part to several talented guys like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. But the Clippers have plenty of potential in their own right, and have the advantage of being a division leader. Plus, Doc Rivers still has plenty of magic left like he showed with the Celtics.
After tanking in Week 1, the Celtics surged in Week 2, including a statement win in Miami. But with Indiana being the only unbeaten team left in the NBA, the rebuilding Celtics don’t appear to be ready for a deep run, especially if they can’t establish a dominant presence at center, and quick.
It was the 76ers against whom Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the 2012 postseason. That could hurt the Bulls if it gets into Rose’s head at all, especially after the “will-he-won’t-he-play” drama from late this past season. What favors the 76ers is home-court advantage, especially since even though Chicago hasn’t lost at home, they haven’t won on the road.
Both teams are pretty close now, though Charlotte has lost their last two home games, one of which was to Atlanta. With every single one of Charlotte’s wins coming against a team currently sub-.500, look for Charlotte to cool off soon enough.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors