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There’s been some movement over the past week, particularly in the lower seeds of the Western Conference, where the Grizzlies have faded back out of the race, 1.5 games behind the Blazers. The lower East seeds have kept playoff spots, but have shuffled the first round match-ups around.
Also, remember when the Celtics lost only one home game in the 1985-1986 season? The Nets could easily win only one road game this season; they’re on pace to win seven games overall, which I would love to see. With only 2.0 games separating the East’s #8 and #9, and 1.5 separating the West’s counterparts, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, February 4 at 12:35am (sans the late games):
Portland has been slipping a tad lately, but then again, the Lakers have been slightly iffy themselves. By all rights, they could have beaten Boston much more easily, and were barely holding off the Bobcats late. If they can be forced to seven games by last year’s Rockets, this year’s Trailblazers can do the same, though an upset is still highly unlikely.
Denver is solidly locked into #2 at this point, while the Thunder could move up or down at a moment’s notice. The Thunder may be riding a four game winning streak, but with a 22-3 home record for the Nuggets, can Durant keep up the scoring for four out of seven for the Thunder?
All of a sudden, Dallas finds themselves dueling with the Jazz for #3, while the Suns could also move up or down with one game’s results. Both teams hold home court advantages, but Phoenix is the only one with a losing road record, which means they’ll have to work hard all seven games, because Dallas could also pick off a game in Phoenix easily.
The Jazz have been on a roll, winning their last seven. The Spurs have been attempting to find their place in the standings, and are struggling to hold off the Suns for #5. Winning in Sacramento Wednesday was an okay way to help their cause, but the Jazz’s winning streak started with a victory in San Antonio.
The NBA’s best have won nine straight to become the first East team with 20 home wins, and are only one away from matching that feat on the road. Chicago hasn’t even won 10 on the road yet, and has lost their last two. Cleveland will easily be able to come up with another first round sweep.
Miami tied a season long three-game losing streak after falling to Boston Wednesday, while Orlando has won its last four. Like Cleveland’s series, Orlando has the record and talent to overcome the Heat; Dwayne Wade can’t be a team by himself. Besides, Miami has dipped below .500 for the first time in awhile.
Boston doesn’t seem to know whether they should be winning or losing lately, which Charlotte could take advantage of if they weren’t 6-18 on the road, and if Boston didn’t have their number this season. If the Celtics can somehow avoid late season injuries, they’ll come up with a first round victory.
Atlanta remains half a game behind Boston after holding off the Clippers, and the Raptors are 5.0 games behind Atlanta after holding off the Nets. I know Turkoglu is injured, but UConn’s women’s basketball team could beat the Nets. Even if Toronto gets in a lucky game, Atlanta will have no problem winning four games first.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz