|Patriots 30, Panthers 7: What we were watching for||Rusney Castillo signs with Red Sox for 7 years, $72.5 million||Connelly’s Top Ten: All-Star Starting Pitchers, Medal for Frates, Weekend||Video: Angels’ Garret Richards Blows Out Knee vs. Red Sox|
Teams are coming up on the halfway mark on the season, and the West continues to have many of the league’s best teams, though race for #8 in the East is at least entertaining as well, albeit for a different reason. Indiana and Miami are well-entrenched in their respective seeds, while San Antonio is trying to pull away in the West, which won’t be easy with the top teams in that conference on the loose. Teams have plenty to think about with the All-Star Game and trade deadline about a month away, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 16 at 7:00pm:
The Spurs have won six straight and nine of ten, and now lead the West by 1.5 games. Dallas is struggling to move up the rankings and could slide down with little provocation. Especially with home-court, look for San Antonio to breeze by their divisional rival.
Like Dallas, Phoenix is having a tough time trying to move up the rankings, and is sub-.500 on the road. Portland has won three straight to stay consistent towards the top of the West, though all three were home games against quite poor East teams. Still, the fact that Portland has spent the whole season at or near the top of the West is a good trend for them, and they remain on track to move into the second round.
Oklahoma City remains in a good position despite going just 6-6 in their last 12, finding it surprisingly difficult to keep any sort of streak intact. Golden State is about a week removed from a 10-game winning streak, and recently acquired Jordan Crawford from the Celtics to boost their skills at guard. The Warriors have faltered a bit in the week since their streak ended, but is looking to put together a team that could pull off an upset against any team that’s not on top of its game. Still, the Thunder have way too much talent to ever take lightly.
Both sides are on winning streaks and both are much better at home. Both are loaded with several pieces of impressive talent. Either Los Angeles or Houston could come out of this one still standing, but the luxury of having Game 7 at home gives the Clippers one notable edge.
Miami has lost three straight games, which would be disastrous for just about any team. However, they still lead #3 Toronto by 7.5 games, and LeBron James can never be counted out, nor can any team of his. Detroit is doing poorly enough for Miami’s losing streak not to be much of a burden.
Toronto is doing well for themselves, up to #3, while Chicago is also winning more often than not. But at just 7-11 on the road, Chicago could be better. That’s not to say the Bulls can’t get the job done, but Toronto has ever so steadily been getting better and better for much of the season.
With two straight losses, the Hawks find themselves just a game ahead of Washington. Atlanta is only 6-13 on the road, which will make it harder to preserve wins at home. Washington is hanging in there, but will need to get a good win to fully turn the tables in their favor, certainly not impossible.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards