Unlike the NHL, the NBA playoff seeding is much more indicative of the talent surrounding a team, and the odds that they will, in fact, advance to the next round. That’s why the top contenders for the NBA title aren’t surprising. But don’t sleep on a couple of teams when the playoffs begin this Saturday:
Reigning MVP Derrick Rose has played in just 38 of the Bulls’ 64 games, yet they still own the best record in the NBA (48-16) going into last night. Needless to say, they’re very deep. Luol Deng remains one of the more underrated players in the league, and is a Celtics killer. The Heat guards have filled Rose’s void nicely, and big men Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are forces.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh. What else do you need to know? All three should be healthy going into the postseason, and it will be interesting to see if they kick it into another gear – a gear the rest of the NBA has been waiting to see. We know the Heat can bring it one game, and disappear the next – and that starts at the top as well.
The dark horse team to come out of the East, the Pacers have been the epitome of health this season. Four of their starters have played in 62 games or more, and seven players have played in 58 or more. Their backcourt is truly deep, and they’re one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA. They’ll cruise through Round 1, and be a tough matchup for all going forward.
Don’t forget: Celtics – If Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Mickael Pietrus come back healthy, the C’s will make noise.
On Sunday, Ron Artest layed a vicious elbow on Thunder sixth man James Harden, an elbow that took Harden (and Artest) out of the game. It’s still unclear how serious the injury to Harden is, but if he can come back, I like the Thunder to win it all. If he’s out for a while, it’ll be a huge blow to their chances.
The Spurs aren’t the “sexy” pick this year, or any year really, but they’re always a serious threat down the stretch. Tim Duncan has taken a diminished role much like Kevin Garnett, and thrived in it. Tony Parker remains a top guard, and the Spurs’ Greg Popovich is maybe their greatest advantage.
No team catches lightning in a bottle quite like the Grizzlies. They’re built for the postseason: young, athletic, energetic, and most importantly, skilled. Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and yes, Tony Allen, make for a matchup nobody wants.
Don’t forget: Lakers
Like the Celtics, this team has been through it all. You can’t count a Kobe Bryant team out.