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10 weeks are gone from the season, and it’s already almost half over. There’s still plenty of room to make it in in the East, what with how most of the conference is faring. The West is more settled for its half of the bracket, but seeding is still anyone’s guess. A lot is changing in the league every night, especially with Andrew Bynum now available, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 9 before the day’s games:
By winning three straight, the Spurs are on top of a three-way race for the West. Dallas has a two-game lead for the final spot, but is still struggling to make any headway from there. Dallas, with their road issues, will especially have trouble winning in San Antonio.
Phoenix is a little better than Dallas, but the teams above are still doing enough to keep Phoenix low in the seedings. Oklahoma City hasn’t exactly been invincible lately, but still has done enough to remain in the uppermost echelon of the NBA. Phoenix could hold their own, but might have some problems lasting for four games in OKC.
The Warriors recently lost their ten-game winning streak, but in the West, even ten wins in a row only gets you so high in the seedings. Portland has been teetering back and forth for the last few weeks. They’re still very much able to get to #1 in the blink of an eye, but with the way Golden State has been playing lately, the Blazers will have trouble holding that momentum back.
Both sides are moving in lockstep still, which makes this series so difficult to predict. Both sides have a clear surplus of talent, so anything could happen at any time. Overall, both sides are also much better at home than on the road. While all it takes is a bad possession or two late to change all that, home-court gives Los Angeles the edge over Houston for the moment.
Brooklyn has won four straight to move into the brackets, but Indiana is still leading the way, even over Miami and San Antonio. In a drawn-out series, Indiana’s pure ability should be too much to slow down and stop.
Chicago has won three straight, but like Atlanta, a very poor road record is minimizing their overall record. Chicago recently traded Luol Deng to the Cavaliers in exchange for draft picks (and Andrew Bynum, who was immediately waived for salary relief), which puts them in rebuilding mode with Derrick Rose out. Atlanta should get a sweep, but should still win a war of attrition with a Bulls squad missing multiple top players.
Toronto is well-entrenched at #4, and their last three losses (@ SA, @ MIA, @ IND) were all forgivable and well-played. Interestingly enough, in January, Washington has lost all three home games and won both road games. Still, Toronto has been toughened much more by their games against the highest level of competition, and is 2-0 so far against Washington this season. Look for Toronto to earn a victory late in the series.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards