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With just two weeks in the season, the playoff picture is starting to come into focus. Nine spots, including four divisions, are locked up. Home-court advantage in the East is a dead heat. The #8 spots are also very close. In fact, teams 7-9 in the West are all tied at 44-31. In fact, other than the Spurs, any team could move up or down a seed or two in quick fashion, so let’s look at what would happen if they playoffs started as of Thursday, April 3 before the day’s games:
The Mavericks have a lead in a three-way tie for #7, but the Thunder are looking like a good bet to walk away with #2 out West. There is definitely some room for improvement for Dallas, especially on the road, in order to hang with the Thunder.
Golden State has faltered a bit lately, though you can’t fault anyone for a loss in San Antonio. Still, the Clippers have won four straight and have already clinched the Pacific Division. Plus, the best home record in the West will mean a lot for the powerful, well-coached Clippers moving forward.
Houston has lost three straight, while the resurgent Trail Blazers have won four straight. The Rockets are really missing the very large presence of Dwight Howard, and without him, they’re heading in the wrong direction in a hurry.
The Pacers have lost five of their last seven, though a tough win over Miami is keeping them in the hunt for the top seed. Charlotte is almost back up to .500, but still needs to work a little harder to secure a spot, not to mention that Indiana has the NBA’s best home record.
Four wins out of five have kept the Raptors in the hunt for #3, even though most of the wins were against bad teams. Washington has now clinched a spot, thanks in no small part to a win against Indiana. Still, they’re managing to keep pace with Toronto at best. A Game 7 at home will certainly help if Toronto needs it.
Chicago has won three straight and is in a tie with the Raptors for #3. Chicago is trending upwards at the end of the season and is looking like an attractive dark horse in the East. The Nets can certainly win, especially with wily veterans Paul Pierce and KG in the fold, though the road hasn’t been too kind to the Nets this season.
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