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The NBA season is nearing its end, and the playoff picture is starting to come into focus. Teams are starting to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, while Miami and Indiana have have punched their tickets. Many teams are still pretty close together, with minimal space between them. With so much left on the line in the last 15 games or so, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, March 20 at 8:00pm:
The Grizzlies have been working hard in an effort to get a bigger hold on a playoff spot. The Thunder have been hit-or-miss lately, but remain dangerous when given the chance. OKC certainly has more than enough to move on, but a little more consistent winning wouldn’t hurt against an always determined Grizzlies squad.
The Clippers just lost their 11-game winning streak, but remain solidly in #3. The Warriors have been nearly as good themselves, but in the middle of their stretch lost in LA to the Clippers for the second time on the year. Without being able to break through on the road, the tension may be too much for Golden State in this one.
Houston is having some problems regarding Dwight Howard’s ankle (and a cyst on it, more accurately), but is holding steady at #4. Portland hasn’t been absolutely terrible, but they’ve been having some problems with playoff teams as of late. That could be bad news for the Blazers, especially with Howard’s absence likely not to be too long.
The Pacers have been streaky lately, but it hasn’t affected their lead in the East. Atlanta has won five in a row to break out of a major funk, but still haven’t moved up from #8. Assuming the Pacers don’t let another losing streak get going for long, they should still be able to move ahead.
Miami has been stumbling a bit lately, and as a result hasn’t been able to gain ground on Indiana. Before dropping their last two, Charlotte had won six of their previous seven. An upset is possible, but Miami’s Big Three is looking to be rested pretty well for the postseason, and if Charlotte slows down at all they won’t be able to recover against Miami’s high-octane attack.
More or less, these two teams have kept pace with each other for awhile. Toronto has home-court and did win the season series, putting Washington at a disadvantage. This is still one of the closer series, which is where a home crowd in Game 7 could always just swing things in the home team’s favor.
Chicago hasn’t lost consecutive games since the beginning of February, but has enough losses sprinkled in the interim to create a sense of weariness. Brooklyn is still two games behind Chicago, but can’t be counted out at all. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (not to mention Jason Kidd) bring a massive wealth of experience to bear, so Chicago will need to be on their toes (which shouldn’t present a problem).
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards