Monday, April 9, 2012

Eastern Conference Playoff Watch: 17 days remain

Basically we’ll track day-to-day activities as we wind down for the playoffs with only 17 days remaining.  This year we have a wild race in both conferences making for a dramatic finish under way with 9 teams fighting in the Eastern Conference and 10 teams competing in the Western Conference, I am considering Portland eliminated already.

We will also will take keep the fans updated as if each team was a stock, now I won’t get mathematical on anyone except when explaining my reasons with stats.  A simple buy or sell or will do for now, and remember they will reflect day-to-day activities, so make your own judgment.

Without further ado, here is a snapshot of the Eastern Conference as of today.

Obviously, I won’t bore you to death with the two top teams here as most have used permanent marker to write the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat to have a rematch in the Eastern Conference.   I happen to think this is going to be a very wacky playoffs with the potential match ups.  I am selling the Heat because I do not like their effort and attitude coming to an end with a chance to lock up the number one spot.  Their stars are under 30 years old, the Heat aren’t the Celtics.

I am buying both the Celtics and Pacers stock right now.  Both teams are on a roll, except the night Indiana took off against Boston.  The Celtics have been playing great basketball since Kevin Garnett moved to the center position and Avery Bradley moved in to the starting line up with Ray Allen injured, and now with Ray Allen healthy coming off the bench.  The Pacers have been one of the new hopeful teams not to fall off (more on that later).  They have been able to continue their playoff run holding the third seed currently.  With 6 out of their last 9 games at home, look for Indiana to lock up the third seed.

The next two teams I am selling.  The Hawks (5th) and Magic (6th) seed would lose to the Celtics (4th) and Pacers (3rd) respectively.  That is the main reason I sold, on the Atlanta Hawks that is.  Boston is a team no one wants to see in the playoffs with their experience, coaching and clicking at the right time.  Atlanta desperately needs Al Horford is they want any kind of playoff success but Larry Drew has been preparing as if that will not happen.  The Hawks can still win a first round series if Joe Johnson and Josh Smith play fantastic basketball (smart shot selection, low turnovers, high efficiency).  Orlando on the other hand I sold because the team is falling apart.  It was a circus in Orlando all year with the All Star Game, Dwight Howard’s season long decision, and now the he-said, she-said stories emerging.  This team has been on a downward slope since 2009 and it is time that some pieces get changed.

This one may shock my friends in New York but I am actually buying the Knicks. Bearing in mind that I said this was a day to day thing, purposely for the Knicks of course.  This team has been on a rocky road all year.  Being awful when 100% healthy, then finding a diamond in the rough (Jeremy Lin) to save them for a period of time, losing one star at a time, then losing both, and firing the coach.  Yet, somehow the Knicks are playing better than before with the new inspired defense (or should we say effort).  This Knicks team seems to be better with only one of Carmelo and Amar’e, but we can talk about what to do with this roster after the season.  Do I think they would beat the Heat in a seven game series, no way jose, but I am drinking the Kool-aid.

I can’t believe I am just getting to the most interesting story of them all, the battle for the 8th seed.  Philadelphia has been a sinking ship since they got off to their hot start of 20-9.  Without a star and a leader this team crumbles during adversity.  The good news for the 76ers is they have found out what they have in Evan Turner.  This roster needs some help inside, too many times they rely on their outside ability with their guard heavy roster.  It’s time to move one of the wings or guards and get some paint presence in return (Al Jefferson or Amar’e, again this talk is for the offseason).  Which now asks the question for Sixer fans, would you rather the 8th seed or ping pong balls.  I would pick playoffs only because a young team should obtain some playoff experience, even if it ends up being only 4 games.  Having said that, I have a feeling the Milwaukee Bucks might sneak into the playoffs. Only 1.5 games back with a healthy friendship building with Monta and Brandon Jennings, I think they might want it more.  It will be interesting to see if they can grab a spot in the playoffs.


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