NBA Playoff Seeding Predictions: East
By: Jack Connolly – NBA Columnist.
First off, my name is Jack (@jconnthinks), and I am freelance writer and a good friend of the owner of FSLR. I’m avid fan of sports, but I love following the NBA. In 39 days many NBA fans across the nation will be glued to their TV, watching the newest installment of the NBA Playoffs. FSLR will be predicting the entire the playoffs – seedings, first round, quarterfinals, conference semifinals, and the NBA Finals. Anything can happen between now and April 17, 2014, but with the association in the last month of play, now is a great time to predict the playoff seedings. The Eastern Conference is up first, with the West getting their due later today.
1. Miami Heat (Current Seed: 2) – Remember last year when the Heat won 27 games in a row? The two time defending NBA Champions know when to turn it on, and in these last 23 games, they will do just that and surpass the Pacers for the first seed.
2. Indiana Pacers (Current Seed: 1) – Paul George is a bona fide NBA superstar now, there is no question about that (22.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg). With Lance Stephenson now playing a bigger role, the Pacers pose the biggest threat to the Heat, mainly due to their inside presence. (Don’t forget about Andrew Bynum in the playoffs).
3. Chicago Bulls (Current Seed: 4) – Even without Derrick Rose, the resilient Bulls have a found a way to stay very much alive in the playoff hunt. Joakim Noah has emerged as one the best passing big men in the NBA as he has mustered 5 double digit assist games in his last 16. Also, Jimmer Fredette will inject a much needed spark into Chicago’s maligned offense.
4. Toronto Raptors (Current Seed 3) – Coach Dwane Casey has done a great job since Rudy Gay was shipped away (the team is 27-14 since he was traded on 12/9/13). With Kyle Lowry averaging 7.7 assists, DeMar DeRozan scoring 22.7 points a game, and Jonas Valanciunas bringing down 8.5 rebounds per contest, the Raptors have a solid and balanced core that has been playing very well together. Maybe Steve Novak will get hot come playoff time?
5. Brooklyn Nets (Current Seed 6) – This a generous placement for the .500 Nets. In the offseason, the bar was set extremely high for the Nets with the acquisitions of Pierce and Garnett. Either someone needs to step up, or the Nets need to start playing more team ball (20.7 team assists per game, 22nd in the league) to achieve the fifth seed. I believe Deron Williams will propel this team over the final 20 games and Brooklyn earns a respectable starting position come playoff time.
6. Washington Wizards (Current Seed 5) – With first time All Star John Wall (19.7 ppg, 8.8 apg, 4.2 rpg) leading the way, the Wizards are destined for playoffs for the first time since 2007. However, it may be a struggle in the final stretch of the season with big man Nene out for at least 4 more weeks.
7. Charlotte Bobcats (Current Seed: 7) – The Bobcats have attained NBA relevance for the first time in years, mainly due to their outstanding defense – 97.4 points allowed per game, 5th best in the NBA. Al Jefferson has made his case for the best center in the league as of late – 26.2 ppg on 55% shooting and 9.4 rpg in his last ten games. All of this in spite of an unexplainable lack of production from 4th overall pick Cody Zeller.
8. New York Knicks (Current Seed: 10) – Similar to the Nets, the Knicks have been playing terrible team ball – 20.4 team assists per game, 26th in NBA. However, this team is too talented to not make the playoffs. Expect NBA scoring champion and seven time all-star Carmelo Anthony to put the team on his back in what possibly could be his last 18 games as a Knick. Also, look out for Tyson Chandler and Tim Hardaway Jr. to emerge as important players alongside Anthony in their final month of play.