White Hat Sports Headlines

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Road to the Playoffs

Here is the second half of my Western Conference playoff breakdown. You can read part one here, and the Eastern Conference projections will be next week.

5. San Antonio Spurs (final projection 55-27): I have the Spurs 5th in my rankings despite the fact I have them projected to win more games than the Jazz because the Jazz will most likely win their division, while the Spurs most likely will not. I also don't really see this team being a huge factor in the playoffs. I know they are the defending champs, but I just don't think they have the overall talent and athleticism anymore to get the job done. Obviously they have to considered contenders, but I think when it is all said and done they will be a second round exit.

6. Houston Rockets (final projection 53-29): This Rockets team achieved a great feat this season in winning 22 straight games, but they really don't have the talent to make it in the Western Conference. Between Yao's season ending injury and T-Mac's lack of playoff wins this team is destined for a first round exit. Obviously that diminishes what they did this season some, but it still is a feat that few teams will ever hope to achieve. I do expect this team to be a contender next year with Yao though, as I think their success this season will lead to a decent playoff run next year.

7. Denver Nuggets (final projection 51-31): Obviously I have a bias towards this team as my favorite player is Allen Iverson. That being said, I truly believe this team still has to be considered a contender. They just have too much talent to not make the playoffs, and once they get into the playoffs anything can happen. If they can improve their defensive intensity come playoff time I can absolutely see them making a run, but if they can't it will be another disappointing finish for a team that needs to win now.

8. Golden State Warriors (50-32): The team that stole the spotlight in the NBA playoffs last season is in the same exact position this year. Unfortunately for them, they will go into the playoffs and face a team that has more talent and is an overall better team. They caught lightning in a bottle with the Mavericks series last year, as they faced a Mavs team unsure of themselves to the point where they tried to change what they did all season to face the 8 seed in the playoffs. Any series they play in will certainly be entertaining, but in the end they don't have enough to go past the first round again this year.

9. Dallas Mavericks (49-33): I said when they traded for Jason Kidd that it was a dumb move and that it would not help them. This proved true, with the team struggling considerably with Kidd in the lineup. Now Dirk is out as well and the Mavs will be the odd man out, failing to reach the 50 win plateau that equals a playoff berth. It's tough to believe a team that was the best team all regular season last year could miss the playoffs entirely this year, but that is exactly what I see happening. They needed Shaq more than any other team at the trade deadline, and couldn't pull the trigger to get it done. It'll be interesting to see what happens to this team in the off season, with Mark Cuban sure to mix things up after missing the playoffs.

Eastern Conference projections to come.

~Aaron Jackson

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