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12 weeks are gone in the NBA season, marking the halfway point. The West has pretty much settled on its teams, though seeding is up for grabs. The East is still clogged up, though the #8 seed there is still in imminent danger. With so many teams trying to push each other around in an attempt to gain ground, anything can happen, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 23, before the day’s games:
Five straight wins have moved the Thunder into the lead in a highly competitive conference. The Mavericks hold a three-game lead for the #8 spot, but are finding it difficult to move up from there. With chants of MVP for Kevin Durant ever growing and the Thunder doing what they are without co-star Russell Westbrook, OKC looks to move ahead relatively easily.
San Antonio remains right behind OKC, and at this point has fared better on the road than at home. That makes things harder on Phoenix, who will have trouble with their road record taking advantage in San Antonio. The Spurs keep defying age and keep finding ways to contend for championships, and this year looks to be no different.
It’s been a similar few weeks for both teams, but Portland still has 5.5 games over Golden State. And with a 16-4 home record, the Blazers still have a decent advantage there. Golden State does have enough ability to get the job done, but it will be difficult.
This will be a contest between two teams that are vastly better at home. Being a division leader, that gives the Clippers the tiebreaker over Houston, though Dwight Howard and James Harden lead a team that will certainly make things interesting. But with a wily coach used to winning leading the Clippers, who have already won in Houston, LA still has the advantage.
Three straight wins and eight of nine have Brooklyn moving up the standings. They’ve also won both games against the Heat so far, both at home. Miami can never be counted out, especially in the event their Big Three is all healthy, though if anyone knows LeBron James and the Heat (and Ray Allen, of course) well enough to get the upset, it’s Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Even at #3, Atlanta is only 7-13 on the road. Washington is only 10-11 at home, but they’ll need to hold serve and keep the pressure on in Atlanta. That’s the way the brief season series has started out, but eventually, Washington needs to crack Atlanta to be successful.
Chicago has been on a pretty good roll lately, and has now pulled even with the Raptors at 21-20. The Raptors have gone 5-5 since their five-game winning streak, and look to have the Nets on their tail before long. The Bulls still have a losing road record, but Toronto is hovering around .500 at home themselves. If the Bulls can keep up their momentum, they have a real chance to pull of the win.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, NBA Finals, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards