Good evening hoop fans,
Its been a few weeks since iv put fingers to keys. We’ve been treated to some truly fantastic ball over the last few weeks. The Heat closing in on an all-time NBA win streak record, The Nuggets are currently on a franchise record win streak and the west seedings are completely open with 4 or 5 teams fighting it out for the number 1 seed.
With the regular season drawing to an end on april 17th with all of the teams playing on the last night, i’m going to talk through some possible winners and losers in the fight to reach the playoffs. I’m going to start with the east. We all know that the top spot is going to be occupied by Miami Heat, they have the best record and can do no wrong…even coming back from huge deficits to grind out victories. This team is special. As for the 2nd spot i think its between the Knicks and the Pacers. With Carmelo i think the Knicks will have the scorer to hold the 2nd spot. But, we all know that he is physically vulnerable at the moment and Stoudemire is not quite there yet. Paul George is the catalyst for this years Pacer team with the absence on Danny Granger. They will meet either the Bulls, Celtics or The Hawks and will have enough fire power to progress towards the conference semi’s. Im pretty confident that the final 8 have been decided in the east (unless the 76ers go on a franchise record streak) but, the Bucks, Celtic and Bulls need to keep above .500 to avoid the Heat and minor shout in progressing further than the first round. For the Bulls they have now come to terms with the fact that Derrick Rose will not play this season and to put there main focus on building for next season. This story has similar notes to the Celtics season, now Rondo is out. Pierce is trying to pull the weight, but its not quite happening with rumors of KG leaving at the end of the season. Underachieving season again for the Celtics. The Bucks have done themselves proud by getting this far, lets hope they don’t slip up up on the home stretch and that Jennings, Ellis and Sanders can create some unlikely upsets against the Heat….
Now to the west. About 2 weeks ago tony Parker was out for a handful of games, OKC had a rocky road trip, Denver started to play after the all-star break and the Clippers were, well…the Clippers. Now Parker is back and looking to steadily roll to the top spot. But the other 3 teams in question are also now finding form at the right time. The Denver Nuggets have been playing sensationally well as they are on a 15 win streak with Ty Lawson pulling the strings. OKC will always be there with 3 times scoring champ fit. The team with the most electric transitional game in the NBA hot on there heels, the Clippers are not to be left out. Memphis also have a shout for a top 4 seed, especially with the most creative “big-man” in the league, Marc Gasol. I think i can say that one of the 1st round match-ups will be between Denver, Clippers or Memphis, but the seedings i cannot predict. Golden State are the surprise package so far and are going strong towards the end of the season. Curry is averaging over 20 points a game is certainly helping their cause. The Los Angeles Lakers, for some people it has not been a surprise that their season has been a none starter. Some moments of brilliance, but few and far between as Kobe, Howard and Nash have not lit up every area like some people thought when the signings happened. Will it all come together in the playoffs (if they get there)? it could, they have the talent to cause upsets and make a strong run. If they slide in at the 8th spot and come against a tired, physically vulnerable Spurs team they could chalk a couple of wins and maybe, just maybe, the L.A “big three” can create something we haven’t really seen all season. Utah, Dallas and Minnesota will be disappointed to have not made the playoffs this season. Dallas’ veterans have maybe gone too far, The Wolves haven’t had Love for the majority of the season, Rubio for the 1st half and Kirilenko for some time and the Jazz haven’t really played around big Al Jefferson, they will need to look for maybe a 2nd scoring option or a scoring point guard, perhaps someone with a bit of experience in the off season.
Lets enjoy the rest of the regular season, before the nitty-gritty of the playoffs.
Il be back with predictions for the finalist’s and regular season awards (MVP, rookie of the year, 6th man, most improved player, coach of the year and all NBA team of the year)