Playoff Predictions (Feb. 29, 2012)
With half of the condensed schedule in the books, the 2011-2012 NBA season resumes later this week, the Portland Trail Blazers who started the season off on the right foot starting 3-0 and gaining some national attention have slipped to a 18-16 record and eighth in the Western Conference, second in Northwest Division.
The problem that has plagued this team have boiled down to inconsistency whether it be scoring, rebounding or finishing tight games. Talk about a 2-11 record when games are decided by five points or fewer. At home in the Rose Garden, Portland has made it a tough place for visiting teams to win, after snapping a four-game losing streak at home, the Blazers are 13-5 in Rip City. The Blazers are also finding tremendous trouble on the road where they are quite the opposite at 5-11, with no real closer to finish tight games off, Portland needs to either give the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge in late situations or coach Nate McMillan needs to improve his coaching tactics. The schedule doesn’t get much easier as Portland will open the second half facing the Heat, Boston, Chicago, OKC (twice) and Lakers in the month of March.
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat sit atop their respected conferences without much surprise. The biggest surprises? Indiana, Philadelphia and the LA Clippers could easily contend for a spot in the Conference Finals and are a legit threat, no longer pushovers that should be taken lightly. Minnesota should be on here too but their record is still pretty terrible, can you believe they are .500? Neither can I!
Disappoints include New York (before the Linsanity), LA Lakers, Dallas, Memphis, Boston, Orlando and Denver who all started the season on the right track but have slipped, Dallas and New York have managed to contain themselves as have the Lakers but still don’t possess the firepower. The Mavericks since they are reigning world champions have all the right to go back to the Conference Finals but they won’t repeat.
So what’s to expect for the rest of the season? We’ll start to see the difference in who wants to get in the postseason bad, the Western Conference is and will be a tight log jam until the last official game as it is every year, and I see Portland going no higher than sixth and might likely face division foe OKC in the first round. Dwight Howard might make a dash to the Lakers but others and myself believe he’s packing for New Jersey or Chicago. Elsewhere, the Bulls might try to pull a fast one on the Heat but I believe that they and the Thunder have locked up their number one seeds.
- Oklahoma City Thunder*
- San Antonio Spurs*
- Los Angeles Clippers*
- Dallas Mavericks
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Houston Rockets
- Denver Nuggets
- Portland Trail Blazers
Western Finals: Thunder over Mavericks
- Miami Heat**
- Chicago Bulls*
- Philadelphia 76ers*
- Indiana Pacers
- Orlando Magic
- Atlanta Hawks
- New York Knicks
- Boston Celtics
Eastern Finals: Heat over Bulls
NBA Finals: Heat over Thunder
*division champions, **best record
photo courtesy of nba.com/blazers