If The Playoffs Started Today, Part 2

One week closer to the Playoffs, and what was looking like placeholder playoff seeding looks to be solidifying as the actual pairings. There’s still a change for some jockeying at the top of the Eastern Conference (Bulls, Celtics and Heat are separated by 2.5 games) and the bottom of the Western Conference (Portland, New Orleans, Memphis separated by 1.5 games, with Houston 2.5 games behind them), but none of the Probable Playoff Match ups changed from last week.

Western Conference Eastern Conference
#1 San Antonio vs. #8 Memphis
(Series tied 2-2)
#1 Boston vs. #8 Indiana
(Boston won series 3-1)
#2 Los Angeles vs. #7 New Orleans
(L.A. won series 4-0)
#2 Chicago vs. #7 New York
(Boston leads 3-0)
#3 Dallas vs. #6 Portland
(Dallas leads 2-1)
#3 Miami vs. #6 Philadelphia
(Miami won series 3-0)
#4 Oklahoma City vs. #5 Denver
(Series tied 1-1)
#4 Orlando vs. #5 Atlanta
(Atlanta leads 2-1)
On the Outside Looking In
Western Conference Eastern Conference
Team Games Behind Team Games Behind
Houston Rockets 2.5 Charlotte Bobcats 1.0
Phoenix Suns 4.0 Milwaukee Bucks 2.0
Utah Jazz 5.0 Detroit Pistons 5.5
GS Warriors – Out 7.5 New Jersey Nets 8.0

What’s Notable

Knicks Keep Losing, Don’t Lose Ground

The bad news is that the New York Knicks have now lost their last six games (dating back to March 17th). The good news, I suppose, is that in that time, they have yet to be knocked from their slot in the playoffs. Such is life in the Eastern Conference, I suppose, wherein the Knicks and Pacers both look to be playoff bound despite having records below .500.

Still Scrambling Out West

Technically speaking, there are still three teams in the Western Conference who can make a run at Memphis in that 8th seed (Rockets, Suns, Jazz). However, only Houston looks to actually be making a play for it, and even then, their playoff hopes were seriously challenged last night as Miami handed them a critical loss.

Utah, meanwhile, appears to still be in a free fall, having lost their last five, seven of their last ten, fifteen of their last twenty (i.e. since Sloan left), and 25 of their last 34 (i.e. when things started going south).

Which Non-Playoff Teams Can Make a Run?

Of all the teams currently on the board, it seems like Charlotte is a candidate to slip in there at the end and grab that spot from Indiana. I still say Houston can get hot and challenge Memphis, but time is starting to run out.

Who Comes Out of the West?

Since last week, the Lakers have extended their win streak to seven, while the Spurs have now lost three in a row, so I have to tip the balance of power back to the Lakers, again. As I pointed out in pre-season, the West belongs to the Lakers until someone takes it from them.

In other news, the Thunder are looking awfully strong.

Who Comes Out of the East?

It still seems like Boston has yet to hit it’s end of season groove, having gone 5-5 in their last 10, while Chicago has gone 9-1 in their last 10. Based on that, it sure looks like Chicago may have the edge heading into the playoffs, but it’s probably important to remember that the Celtics lost 7 of their last 10 games last year, and that didn’t seem to affect their drive to the Finals.

So then your Finals Prediction Is?

Based solely on how teams are playing right now, I say we’re looking at a Game 7 showdown between Chicago and Los Angeles, with Chicago getting the win thanks to home court (though, keep in mind that currently Chicago is 53-19 while Los Angeles is 53-20). That said, I still see Oklahoma City, Boston and yes, Miami as the most likely playoff X-factors at this stage.

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~ by djepperson on March 28, 2011.

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