There’s less than a month remaining in the NBA’s regular season, which means the playoff picture is starting to take shape. You can go here to see the official standings, but here’s a brief recap:
1) In the East, the Pacers and Heat have struggled over the past month but are still miles ahead of everyone else.
2) In the West, everyone is good and the playoffs will be insane.
The one through nine seeds in the West gives you nine of the best eleven teams in the NBA. One really quality team will be left out of the playoffs (as of today it’s the Suns, though it could easily be the Mavericks or Grizzlies or even Warriors by season’s end), and the rest will have a hell of a time fighting each other off to get to the Finals.
There’s only one team that I would pick definitively over any other in a seven-game series, and they’re number one in our Power Rankings again this week. Everyone else has the firepower to beat any other team — as well as the flaws that could lead to an unfortunate and untimely downfall.
Basically: Don’t be surprised if there’s an upset or two in this year’s Western Conference playoffs. The lower seeds are as strong as they’ve ever been this year, and as the NCAA Tournament has shown us so far, it only takes one misread play to alter a team’s fate forever. (If the playoffs ended today? I’d feel very comfortable in taking the Warriors over the Clippers, or the Blazers over the Rockets.)
If you’re a betting man, I say Spurs vs. Heat again or bust.
As for the rest of the league?