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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 7

Thunder vs Pacers: Week 7's prediction for the NBA Finals

Seven weeks are gone in the NBA season, and three teams are above .500 in the East. Beyond the front few teams, the teams are as clustered as they can be, and especially in the East several teams ranked ninth and lower are in the running. Trading season is off and running, and many teams have interests and holes to fill. A lot can and will happen in the next week, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, December 19, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #8 Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets aren’t a bad team; they have winning records both at home and on the road. However, seven straight wins have finally nudged the Thunder into #1. And a perfect home record helps.

#2 Portland Trail Blazers vs #7 Phoenix Suns

Phoenix is doing well enough to stay in the hunt, but well enough won’t cut it against this season’s Portland squad. They can easily win anywhere, and have scored at least 100 points in 14 straight games. Phoenix just had a five-game winning streak, but they’ll have plenty of trouble against the best teams.

#3 San Antonio Spurs vs #6 Dallas Mavericks

These divisional rivals always have great games against each other. Dallas is a good team, but almost all of that ability shines in Dallas. San Antonio is one of the tougher places to play in the league, and the Spurs never like to end their season this early.

#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs #5 Houston Rockets

Both teams are about as good they come at home, which is good news for the Clippers. With all their talents, the Rockets will have some difficulties. That being said, Houston center Omer Asik is involved in plenty of trade rumors. Houston won’t deal him unless they can get a good deal, but if they can get a piece or two to help out, it could always help against LA.

East

#1 Indiana Pacers vs #8 Toronto Raptors

After being upset by the Pistons, Indiana gave Miami all they could handle, and came within a minute of pulling off a victory themselves. Toronto shouldn’t be expected to make too much headway.

#2 Miami Heat vs #7 Washington Wizards

Miami‘s big win has them within a game of the top spot. Washington isn’t quite on an elite level to compete with the Big Three (and Ray Allen and others, for that matter).

#3 Atlanta Hawks vs #6 Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats have won two in a row, but so have the Hawks. Not only are the Hawks a muscular two games above .500, but they’re 10-4 at home. Plus, Charlotte is 0-4 in their division.

#5 Detroit Pistons vs #4 Boston Celtics

The Celtics continue to benefit from being in a very weak division, but Detroit is 2-0 against them this season, most recently a 107-106 hard-fought victory Wednesday. Even in a weak division and with good chemistry, it will be difficult for a rebuilding team like Boston to do anything much.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Toronto has a simply intolerable road trip ahead, and will fall out of the last spot. Even with a game in OKC, the Bulls have Cleveland and Brooklyn ahead, and are the front runners to move up.

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