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After another week, the brackets are shifting a tad. A little seed jostling here and there, made possible by winning streaks followed by losing ones. It enabled Phoenix to overtake Oklahoma City, and allowed Milwaukee to sneak in completely under the radar. The Cavs, despite a disappointing end to their winning streak, recovered enough to remain ahead of the Lakers. They can thank the Mavericks for that. And those lovable losers New Jersey? They’re at 5-52, on pace for 7-75. Here’s hoping. With the playoffs starting to enter everyone’s minds, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, February 25 at 11:00pm (sans the late game):
Los Angeles lost a dogfight in Dallas Wednesday, while Portland has won two to pull to a mere 10.0 games behind L.A. Still, the Lakers have this one in hand. Kobe Bryant is getting back into the swing of things, and Los Angeles does have the edge in just about any record you look at. Portland may put up a fight, but it will be a futile effort in the end.
As good as Denver is, most of that momentum has come at home. Then again, San Antonio is the same way. Then again, in three games between the two so far this season (two in San Antonio, one in Denver), the road team won each time. That’ll be a tough trend to continue, as these teams begin to plan out playoff strategies. With the atmospheres the way they are for playoffs, the home teams should start winning.
The Thunder have lost two, after winning nine straight, after dropping three, after winning three. See what I’m getting at here? The Jazz have been much more consistent, with their only two losses in over a month coming against the Lakers and Hawks. Utah’s superb home record gives them the starting edge, so this series could come down to how bionic Kevin Durant can get when shooting the ball.
Last year, they were fighting for a playoff spot to begin with. This year, they’re fighting for home court advantage. Dallas has won their last five; Phoenix has won their last four. Both teams clearly want it, but Phoenix has been iffy on the road. Much like last year, Nowitzki and Kidd will overwhelm the Suns, who this year, don’t have Shaq.
The Cavs are back on track, having destroyed the Celtics in the 4th quarter. The Heat are sitting at .500, trying to keep the Bobcats out of their hair. With Shaq for power and James for skill, and plenty of backup in between, is there any doubt that Cleveland will advance?
Milwaukee has won five straight to move to 29-28. Impressive, but they’ve been swept by Orlando in their three game season series. Much like other upstart teams, the Bucks have a poor road record, which means they’ll be hard pressed to do well. By the way, their two losses in Orlando were by 25 and 17 points.
So Boston’s gone from having poor 3rd quarters to having poor random quarters. The constant injuries don’t help either. Until they can put together streaks like their 2008 selves, or early 2009-2010 selves, Boston can’t win enough to win four of seven. With Derrick Rose lighting them up, the Bulls should pull off the seven-game victory, or sooner, this time around.
Both teams have home records that suggest easy enough victories. But the Hawks still have the edge anyway, and not just because the Hawks have already won in Toronto. With another poor road record, the Raptors will be pressured to win all three home games, just so they won’t have to pick off two in Atlanta. The Hawks will seize the opportunity and knock off the Raptors without breaking too much of a sweat en route to a rematch with Cleveland.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz