So here we are. One week away from the NBA All-Star weekend and midway point to the season, and the playoff picture is still a mess in both conferences. While the top seeds seem to be set and surely not moving, the rest of the field is wide open. In the East, spots 3-10 are separated by only six games, and in the West, spots 2-8 are separated by a mere seven. Along with this, we still have the trade deadline coming up and multiple key players coming back from injuries. So trying to predict the final playoff picture would seem like an absurdity at this point, right? Well, yes. But I’m bored so what the hell. Using this awesome strength of schedule graphic from Ed Kupfer and taking into consideration injuries and history, here is my final playoff picture.
Current (2/10): 1. Indiana 2. Miami 3. Toronto 4. Atlanta 5. Washington 6. Chicago 7. Brooklyn 8. Charlotte
Prediction: 1. Indiana 2. Miami 3. Toronto 4. Brooklyn 5. Washington 6. Atlanta 7. Chicago 8. New York
Notes: Indiana has the 3rd easiest SOS going forward and Toronto has the easiest, justifying those predictions. I feel the Knicks will make a surge as Melo fights to keep them relevant and I think the Nets will also gain momentum as their team continues to build chemistry and J Kidd gains more experience.
Current (2/10): 1. OKC 2. San Antonio 3. Portland 4. Clippers 5. Houston 6. Phoenix 7. Dallas 8. Golden State
Prediction: 1. OKC 2. San Antonio 3. Clippers 4. Houston 5. Portland 6. Golden State 7. Memphis 8. Phoenix
Notes: OKC and the Spurs seem to be set to claim the top two spots (OKC w/ the SOS edge and Westbrook coming back). Portland has a brutal schedule coming up and I feel as though they won’t be able to sustain this type of play going forward especially with their stars getting so many minutes (3 starters in top 22 of minutes per game). My surge team in the West is the Grizzles. With their experience and semi-easy schedule going forward, they shouldn’t have trouble sneaking into one of the last couple of seeds (they would be a dangerous 7 seed…). Lastly, I hope Phoenix can make the playoffs, and I think they will. I love the way Goran Dragic (my biggest All-Star snub) is playing right now and this team is really gelling.
So there it is. Some awesome potential match-ups in this years playoffs. I would love to see the 3-6 Clippers/Warriors high scoring, probably seven game, draw come true along with the potential Melo takes on the Pacers match-up. What do you guys think? Leave some comments below and let me know how you think this years playoffs will unfold!