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Teams have started to settle into their positions as we approach the half-way mark of the season, but plenty of spots are ripe for the taking. Only three teams are not within 5.5 games of a playoff spot. The Bucks are not in a playoff spot, but are 2.5 games away from #5. Similarly out west, the Jazz are 4.0 games out of #2. It is a competitive conference.
The Cavs and Lakers have cracked the 30 -in mark, while the Nets have earned all of three. The Knicks are in the thick of the hunt, as are the Grizzlies. With so much still to be decided, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 13 at 11:55pm (sans the late games):
The Lakers are 30-9, including 21-3 at home. The Thunder have been good, but they’re not anywhere near that level. The Lakers managed to win in Dallas Wednesday even with Kobe Bryant having back problems. The Lakers will win easily.
Dallas has dropped their last two, while Houston won a triple overtime thriller Wednesday over Minnesota. However, Houston has a losing road record, and took a while to beat a bad team in Minnesota. Dallas has been excellent both at home and away. Dallas should be able to take this match-up without trouble.
The Spurs have won three in a row to once more challenge for their division and make a run at the West’s crown and the Lakers. That includes a last second win Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Both the Spurs and Blazers shine better as a home team, so this series could definitely go seven games along those lines.
The Suns lost in Indiana Wednesday, while the Nuggets dominated the Magic. Again, both teams have been much better at home, so this could be another seven game series based on that. Denver won at home 105-99 in the first meeting, further lending credence to this idea. Still, the Suns definitely have the tools to pick off a game in Denver.
Chicago may have a 13-7 home record to compete with Cleveland’s 16-7 road record, but at 3-13 on the road, Chicago is hardly in a position to be a long term threat. And if they can blow a 35 point lead against Sacramento, the Bulls can’t be assumed to be on the way to a victory at any point.
This is a similar situation. The Bobcats are decent at home but horrendous on the road. The Celtics have been fighting injury after injury this year, but have remained a powerful contender that is capable of making good plays and putting up great performances. Plus, Boston has owned Charlotte so far this season.
Yet more of the same, though not so terribly pronounced. Orlando did lose big in Denver Wednesday, but that was the one game. Orlando is still a team that is much more accustomed to playoff performances. And they won the season series 3-1. All in all, the Magic should win this one relatively easily.
Atlanta has won two straight, including another impressive performance against the Celitcs. Miami is sitting at .500, while the Hawks are starting to look like an elite team, including 15-4 at home. The Heat might make a push in the series, but Atlanta should sweep them aside more easily than last year.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors