NBA Playoffs Seeding Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 2/22/2010
This could end up being a banner year for the Eastern Conference. It looks like the requirements to get into the playoffs in the East have just gotten a little stricter. Currently, the top eight teams in the East are all at least .500 ball clubs. That is something that could not have been said the last few years at the end of the regular season. Teams with a losing record were routinely getting into the playoffs while teams over .500 in the West were being denied.
As of right now the Charlotte Bobcats are at .500 and playing pretty decent basketball. Ahead of them the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat are just barely over .500 but they are also playing good basketball and each has the experience to finish strong. That is good news for the morale of the Eastern Conference, which has been the butt of many jokes over the last few years for not being able to produce enough winning teams but also bad news for Milwaukee, the only team with a realistic shot of getting into the playoffs that is currently on the outside trying to get in.
The Bucks have a brutal schedule the rest of the way and Charlotte and Chicago have both made moves to bolster their playoff chances. Their best shot to get in is for Miami to go in the tank over the last month of the season, which is a possibility, just not likely. For now look for the eight seeds to hold.
In terms of home court advantage Cleveland, Orlando, Boston and Atlanta are virtual locks to host first round playoff games. Toronto is the only team who could challenge for one of those spots but the Raptor’s easy part of the schedule is behind them and they were unable to make up much ground on either Boston or Atlanta. Cleveland is running away with the top seed again and the fight for second is close now but Orlando has the capability to put some distance between themselves and Boston.
Here are my predictions for the Eastern Conference’s top eight seeds heading into the postseason considering what each team has lying ahead and how they are playing at this point in the season.
Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions (Seeding)
1) Cleveland Cavaliers
2) Orlando Magic
3) Atlanta Hawks
4) Boston Celtics
5) Toronto Raptors
6) Chicago Bulls
7) Charlotte Bobcats
8) Miami Heat
As easy as the East is to figure out, the West is the complete opposite. Like Cleveland, Los Angeles is running away with the first overall seed and everything that comes with it. The next tier of teams features Denver, red-hot Utah, Dallas, smoking-hot Oklahoma City and Phoenix. Only three of those teams will join the Lakers in the top tier. Both Denver and Utah have a little separation in their battle for the No. 2 and No. 3 seed but both have already played three more home games than road games. Both Dallas and Oklahoma have extremely friendly schedules coming up (Dallas plays four more home games than road games the rest of the season and Oklahoma City plays three more home games than road games) with winnable games on the road and a lot of games against teams going nowhere near the playoffs.
The fight for the last seeds is between San Antonio, Portland, New Orleans, Houston and Memphis. Right now San Antonio and Portland are in with the other three on the outside looking in. New Orleans is without Chris Paul for another few weeks while Houston has bolstered its playoff chances and roster with some deadline deals. Portland is fading quickly to the surprise of many and 15 of their final 24 games are on the road. Unlike the Eastern conference it looks like three teams with winning records will be left out of the playoffs. Talk of the Spurs’ demise seems a little premature, their veteran experience is a huge factor at this time of the year. Memphis has a manageable schedule that could allow it to gain some ground on the pack but their lack of defense will really hurt them at this point in the year.
Here are my predictions for the Western Conference’s top eight seeds heading into the postseason considering what each team has lying ahead and how they are playing at this point in the season.
Western Conference Playoff Predictions (Seeding)
1) Los Angeles Lakers
2) Dallas Mavericks
3) Denver Nuggets
4) Oklahoma City Thunder
5) Utah Jazz
6) San Antonio Spurs
7) Phoenix Suns
8) Houston Rockets
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