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The All-star break is only a week away, and other than the top teams, the contenders are stepping all over each other in an effort to get a better seed and home-court advantage. The standings are clogged up, too, so there’s lots of wiggle room. Much is still to be decided, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, February 6, before the day’s games:
After winning three straight, the Mavericks now have some breathing room for a playoff spot, but the Thunder have won 12 of 13 and haven’t lost at home since January 2 against Brooklyn. Even if Dallas is game, it’ll be a long series for them.
Three straight wins have the Spurs back on track, and the process of resting their stars for the Playoffs is well underway. This is the formula that has the Spurs as legitimate contenders every season. Phoenix won in Indiana to end January, which will do wonders for their morale, but to win a lengthy series with the wily Spurs, they can’t afford to drop any momentum. Losing their last two to Chicago and in Houston is difficult to swallow, even for how well the Suns have been playing lately. They’ll make things interesting, but San Antonio’s experience still leaves the advantage with them.
Portland‘s 19-5 record at home is keeping them afloat towards the top of the West. Golden State hasn’t lost much ground, but is half a game away from #8. The teams have each won once this season, both games being in Golden State. Golden State certainly can get the job done, but a little more confidence couldn’t hurt their cause.
Houston is percentage points ahead of Los Angeles, which has played two more games than the Rockets. The Clippers are still leading a division, which means they’ll have home-court in the event of a tie. But for now, the Rockets have won four straight to get into this position. The Clippers have lost two in a row, though one was to the Heat. With both sides loaded with talent, whoever is rolling the most towards the end of the season will have the best chance.
The Nets were slowed down a bit by OKC and Indiana, but remain a team ready to move up at any moment. The problem with that is that they lost to the best teams around, and Miami is right there in the conversation with said teams. If Brooklyn can’t beat the best, Miami will take advantage.
Chicago is fighting with Washington over #5, while Toronto is barely holding off Atlanta for #3. The road team has won all three games in the season series so far, which is good for Chicago. Chicago and Toronto have each jettisoned star players this season (Luol Deng and Rudy Gay respectively), which is certain to make this a more tactical series, where strategy and coaching will mean a lot.
Washington is precisely 12-12 both at home and away, but Atlanta is only a game ahead. The Hawks are also much better at home than away, which gives a good hint as to how this series will go. This also puts the pressure squarely on Atlanta to defend their home court, while one road win will do wonders for Washington.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, 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