White Hat Sports Headlines

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Road to the Playoffs

The NBA playoffs are coming up, and there are going to be a few teams on the outside looking in. I've decided to take an in depth look at each conference and break down which teams will and will not be making the playoffs. I'll do the Western Conference breakdowns for the first four seeds now, with the remainder to come later in the week. Next week, I'll break down how I think the Eastern Conference will pan out.

1. New Orleans Hornets: (final projection 57-25) The Hornets have been my favorite team to watch all season, and despite the fact that I am rooting for the Denver Nuggets because of Iverson, I can't help but root for the Hornets as well. They have won 8 of the last 10, and are absolutely ready to compete for a title now despite what many "experts" say. They have the true center that can score and is great defensively in Tyson Chandler, they have the shooter who stretches the court in Peja Stojakovic, they have the low post scoring option in David West, and they have the superstar guard that makes everyone significantly better in Chris Paul. They also have two very talented swingmen in Bonzi Wells and Morris Peterson, and have a game changing guard in Janeero Pargo that comes in off the bench.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: (final projection 56-26) This is the team that is probably considered the favorite to win the west at this point, but I think they will finish second to end the regular season. Obviously, Kobe is one of the greatest players in the game, but they also now have a great supporting cast around him with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar. I don't think they beat out the Hornets for the top spot because Gasol is injured and is probably going to rest a lot for the remainder of the regular season, and Bynum has yet to play since before the all star break. This team probably is less concerned with it's overall seeding as it is it's playoff performance, but home court advantage throughout would certainly be a big help. I definitely think that they have the best shot of winning it all out of the west right now.

3. Phoenix Suns: (final projection 55-27) I said when the Suns traded for Shaq it would take awhile to see how it would work out, and it certainly did. They looked horrible for a while, but have now won 7 of their last 10, and are really starting to come on late. They have been major players in the playoff picture for a few years running, and with Shaq on board they certainly think this it the year they get over the hump. One thing is certain for them; they need to win now, and anything less than a championship is considered a disappointment for them. They won't be able to get a seed higher than 4th because I don't have them winning their division, but I still think they have the third best record in the west.

4. Utah Jazz: (final projection 53-29) If there is one team that needs home court advantage to excel in the playoffs it is the Jazz. They are 30-4 at home, and 16-21 on the road. If they don't have home court advantage in the playoffs they probably won't go very far. They have the division pretty well locked up however, and with that they ensure at least home court in the first round. After that though they may have a struggle making it far in the playoffs despite the talent they clearly have.

~Aaron Jackson

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