NBA Roundtable

Playoff Picture

In 2010 NBA Playoffs on December 18, 2009 at 11:24 am

A follow up post to the recent power rankings

Eastern Conference

Playoff Locks

  • Boston Celtics
  • Orlando Magic
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Atlanta Hawks

Very Good Chance

I think there are two more teams who are very likely to nab playoff spots

  • Detroit
  • Miami

Well Positioned

That gives us six playoff teams and two open vacancies. I reckon there are three teams that are well positioned to win those final spots

  • Washington
  • Charlotte
  • Philadelphia — The Sixers could play at a high 40s win pace the rest of the way with Iverson on board if they continue to play Brand as a sixth man. They have a large deficit to make up but I like the top end of their team.

Outside Chance

Then there’s two teams that has a chance of making the dance but are slightly behind the other three

  • Milwaukee
  • Chicago


I can’t see the Raptors being involved in the playoff hunt as the season advances. Their defense is simply too poor, it’s not giving them a chance to compete.

Indiana may be able to join the Bucks and Bulls but I think it’s too late for the Knicks. The Nets never stood a chance.

Western Conference

Playoff Locks

  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Utah Jazz
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Phoenix Suns

Very Good Chance

  • Portland

Well Positioned

  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Houston Rockets
  • New Orleans Hornets — if they ever get their act together could up their standard of play pretty quickly and be a good team the rest of the way.

Outside Chance

  • Los Angeles Clippers


It looked like we would have eight locks for the playoffs prior to the season starting but the Hornets horrific performance date has created a clear opening for Houston + Oklahoma.

And, Portland’s unlucky time with injuries has cast some doubt over their playoff chances. They’re still likely to make it but they’re no longer a lock.

Half-thinking that I should drop the Hornets down to the outside chance section with the Clippers. Is it not too early to write the Hornets off though? Anyway, they’re on the cusp of being in either grouping.

  1. I’d hold off on Detroit until after they play that home-and-home series. Detroit is already down 1 to the Raps, if they go down 3, playoffs aren’t looking so likely.

    I find it hard to believe in Philly until they show signs they can play way above a .500 pace. It’s not there yet. Not even close.

    Why do you have faith in the Wiz? The team doesn’t.

    The 5-8 spots are a huge crap shoot. Only Miami has shown any signs of being able to grab and keep one of those spots so far.

    Every one else is a dog, a dog with fleas.

  2. Brothersteve,

    Can you envision the Raptors going into beantown this season and accomplishing what the 76ers did last night?

    Conversely, can you see the Wizards doing a similar thing to what the 76ers did, given the actual “NBA talent” level on Washington’s roster, when healthy?

    Can you see the Pistons doing a similar thing, if/when they return Hamilton and Prince to their everyday line-up?

    There are a whole swack of middle of the pack teams in the EC this year … and the reality of the situation is that the Raptors are no better than any number of them, despite the whoelsale/radical roster make-over of this past summer.

    One of the critical things to understand about the current season for the Raptors is this:

    It was Bryan Colangelo who decided to “up the ante” on the performance of this year’s team by making those wholesale changes this past summer … which were NOT designed to give the team “a chance” at finishing in the #6 or #7 or #8 position in the EC standings, to be eliminated in the 1st Round, again, by the Celtics, Magic or Cavaliers … and, thereby, run the very real risk of losing Chris Bosh’s faith in the process.

    By making those wholesale changes, Bryan Colangelo put the onus on the team making a significant climb in the standings this season AND winning a 1st Round Playoff series in order to prove to Chris Bosh [who is the best player this franchise has] that he should really, truly, madly, deeply place his trust in the GM’s ability to follow through on what he says he’s going to be able to do, or not.

    The person who has put HIS credibility on the line this season … and, by that I mean this team has to WIN ITS 1ST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES … is none other than Bryan Colangelo.

    Boston and Orlando and Cleveland and Atlanta seem like they’ll have enough to finish in the #1-4 positions.

    Miami seems like it will have enough to finish somewhere in spots #5-8.

    Milwaukee, Detroit, Charlotte, Toronto, Indiana, Chicago, New York, Washinton and Philadelphia would appear to be destined for a season-long dog-fight for the 3 remaining playoff positions.

    When you’re 1 of [perhaps, as many as] 9 teams in a race for just 3 spots, at the bottom of the playoff heap in the East THIS season … just the simple mathematics alone make it a daunting proposition that the Raptors are going to be able to accomplish the goal they have for this season, which became earning Chris Bosh’s trust, as soon as Bryan Colangelo decided to roll the dice on:

    * Acquiring Hedo Turkoglu
    * Extending Andrea Bargnani
    * Extending Jay Triano
    * Drafting DeMar DeRozan
    * Acquiring Jarrett Jack
    * Acquiring Antoine Wright
    * Acquiring Marco Belinelli
    * Acquiring Amir Johnson
    * Acquiring Sonny Weems
    * Re-acquiring Rasho Nesterovic

    For his sake, and for the sake of the franchise’s long term viability, he better turn out to be right … or, it’s not going to be a pretty picture, in Raptorville, come next fall.

  3. Hey Brothersteve,

    It’s a talent vs performance question … leading to expected future performance. For Phily and Washington. Detroit is about good performance + return of injured players.

    I like the addition of Allen Iverson in Philadelphia. I think he brings a lot to that team. I also very much like Eddie Jordan bringing Brand off the bench instead of starting him, which is the main reason my faith in them has grown. If Jrue Holiday can continue his strong recent play as a serviceable role player (good defense, rebounds, runs the offense, doesn’t play outside of his talent level) then the Sixers will have a very strong eight man rotation once Lou Williams comes back with a little bit of depth beyond that (Green, Carney, Smith, Kapono).

    As for Washington, their offense is badly under-performing. Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler are struggling mightily. Mike Miller is out injured (suffered other injuries too). There’s a lot of unharnessed talent there, a lot of upside for this team to improve as the season goes on.

    As for the Raptors, there is some room for them to improve (defensively) but I lack confidence in that happenings under Jay Triano.

    Now, not all of those teams who I have above the Raptors now are going to fulfill their promise … but enough will (11 teams after all) to keep the Raptors out of the playoffs.

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