David Ortiz will gladly welcome his two newest teammates to Boston, as will the rest of Red Sox Nation. (@davidortiz) David Ortiz Welcomes $200M Teammates Sandoval and Ramirez to Red Sox on Twitter 14 years to the day of Brady's debut losing to the Lions 34-9, the Patriots turn the tables with a 34-9 victory of their own. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Notes and Observations Week 12: Patriots Continue Stretch of Dominance, Defeat Lions 34-9 Donte Clark, Jabari Hinds (Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe) Minutemen Bounce Back with Win over Florida State Connelly’s Top Ten: Kraftapoolooza – Pats and Revs Win!

If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 12

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

12 weeks are gone in the NBA season, marking the halfway point. The West has pretty much settled on its teams, though seeding is up for grabs. The East is still clogged up, though the #8 seed there is still in imminent danger. With so many teams trying to push each other around in an attempt to gain ground, anything can happen, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 23, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #8 Dallas Mavericks

Five straight wins have moved the Thunder into the lead in a highly competitive conference. The Mavericks hold a three-game lead for the #8 spot, but are finding it difficult to move up from there. With chants of MVP for Kevin Durant ever growing and the Thunder doing what they are without co-star Russell Westbrook, OKC looks to move ahead relatively easily.

#2 San Antonio Spurs vs #7 Phoenix Suns

San Antonio remains right behind OKC, and at this point has fared better on the road than at home. That makes things harder on Phoenix, who will have trouble with their road record taking advantage in San Antonio. The Spurs keep defying age and keep finding ways to contend for championships, and this year looks to be no different.

#3 Portland Trail Blazers vs #6 Golden State Warriors

It’s been a similar few weeks for both teams, but Portland still has 5.5 games over Golden State. And with a 16-4 home record, the Blazers still have a decent advantage there. Golden State does have enough ability to get the job done, but it will be difficult.

#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs #5 Houston Rockets

This will be a contest between two teams that are vastly better at home. Being a division leader, that gives the Clippers the tiebreaker over Houston, though Dwight Howard and James Harden lead a team that will certainly make things interesting. But with a wily coach used to winning leading the Clippers, who have already won in Houston, LA still has the advantage.

East

#1 Indiana Pacers vs #8 Charlotte Bobcats

Despite two wins in a row, the Bobcats need six more just to get back to .500. With the way Indiana has been playing this season, they should breeze by Charlotte.

#2 Miami Heat vs #7 Brooklyn Nets

Three straight wins and eight of nine have Brooklyn moving up the standings. They’ve also won both games against the Heat so far, both at home. Miami can never be counted out, especially in the event their Big Three is all healthy, though if anyone knows LeBron James and the Heat (and Ray Allen, of course) well enough to get the upset, it’s Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

#3 Atlanta Hawks vs #6 Washington Wizards

Even at #3, Atlanta is only 7-13 on the road. Washington is only 10-11 at home, but they’ll need to hold serve and keep the pressure on in Atlanta. That’s the way the brief season series has started out, but eventually, Washington needs to crack Atlanta to be successful.

#4 Toronto Raptors vs #5 Chicago Bulls

Chicago has been on a pretty good roll lately, and has now pulled even with the Raptors at 21-20. The Raptors have gone 5-5 since their five-game winning streak, and look to have the Nets on their tail before long. The Bulls still have a losing road record, but Toronto is hovering around .500 at home themselves. If the Bulls can keep up their momentum, they have a real chance to pull of the win.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Both Charlotte and Detroit have winnable but trap games; Charlotte needs to be careful to avoid dropping their spot, though the odds are in their favor.

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