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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 22

Spurs vs Pacers: Week 22's prediction for the NBA Finals

Just one week remains in the season, but plenty is left to decide. The top seed in the East is still a tossup. The last spots in each conference are still alive. Middle seeding could still get jumbled up. There may be favorites to win, but a lot of teams will make a strong bid to pull off some upsets, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, April 10, before the day’s games:

West

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs #8 Phoenix Suns

The Suns have won three in a row and have a one-game hold on the final playoff spot. But the Spurs have been doing insanely well, and are a game away from locking up the best record in the NBA. And they haven’t lost at home since January 29. Even as good as Phoenix has been, they’ll have problems here.

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #7 Dallas Mavericks

The Spurs likely won’t lose enough for Oklahoma City to take over #1, but OKC is gearing up for a deep run, having won against San Antonio and at the Clippers in April. Dallas has won four straight at a good time. Still, holding back Kevin Durant will be a tough challenge, not to mention dealing with Serge Ibaka commanding the paint.

#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs #6 Golden State Warriors

Golden State is maintaining position at #6, as the Clippers are at #3. Despite two (hard-fought) home losses in April (to Dallas and OKC), the Clippers are still tied for the best home record in the West. That will help the Clippers, since the home team has won each of four times in the season series. But the Warriors will certainly put up a fight.

#4 Houston Rockets vs #5 Portland Trail Blazers

The Rockets haven’t done too bad, but it would be helpful to have their big bull back in Dwight Howard. The Blazers have won six of seven, and could leapfrog Houston if the Rockets back into the postseason. In any case, either side will need to lay everything they have on the table to win.

East

#1 Indiana Pacers vs #8 Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have had a difficult time getting anything going. The Pacers have been pretty bad too, 3-7 in their last 10, but there’s nothing like Milwaukee to get another W in your pocket (when Philadelphia’s not on the schedule, anyway). Indiana may be in trouble, but Atlanta may have trouble capitalizing.

#2 Miami Heat vs #7 Washington Wizards

Washington can’t seem to get a winning streak going, but won’t let a losing streak take hold either. Miami has lost two in a row, including being swept in the season series (including preseason) by Brooklyn. Most of the Heat’s losses have been very close, though, and with LeBron James, they could break out at any time. Still being relatively inexperienced in playoff situations, Washington is in danger against a threepeat-minded Heat.

#3 Toronto Raptors vs #6 Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte has won five straight, but their isn’t much room for them to move up. Toronto has won four straight themselves, and are clawing tooth and nail for the #3 seed. Toronto’s momentum is still favored to counteract Charlotte’s at this point.

#4 Chicago Bulls vs #5 Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn is all but mathematically the #5 seed, but followed up their win against Miami with a difficult loss to Orlando. The Bulls have won six straight, and are an attractive dark horse to contend for the East, if not the title. Brooklyn obviously has the veteran presence to win, but the old guns will have to perform better than ever first.

Predicted Final Standings

East #1 Heat
#2 Pacers
#3 Raptors
#4 Bulls
#5 Nets
#6 Bobcats
#7 Wizards
#8 Hawks
West #1 Spurs
#2 Thunder
#3 Clippers
#4 Rockets
#5 Trail Blazers
#6 Warriors
#7 Suns
#8 Grizzlies

Predicted First Round Results

Heat def Hawks Pacers def Wizards Raptors def Bobcats Bulls def Nets
Spurs def Grizzlies Thunder def Suns Clippers def Warriors Trail Blazers def Rockets

Predicted Second Round Results

Heat def Bulls Raptors def Pacers
Spurs def Trail Blazers Thunder def Clippers

Predicted Third Round Results

Heat def Raptors Spurs def Thunder

Predicted NBA Finals Results

Heat def Spurs

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