Since the NBA is on its extended LeBron James All-Star break let’s take a peak at what might be. Each team has under 30 games left and as the playoff match ups get clearer imagine a #1 seeded Golden State Warriors taking on a #8 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the 1st round. How would the Warriors season be looked at if the lost in the 1st round of the playoffs even if it was to a team with the talent level of Oklahoma City. It could be a potentially great series with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson leading the way for the Warriors against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the Thunder. Now Oklahoma City still has some work to do though as the Phoenix Suns are the #8 seed in the Western conference right now. Phoenix is 29-25 while Oklahoma City is 28-25; so that #8 seed may come down to the wire. There are a couple of other possible Western conference playoff match ups that we could see. How about the #2 seeded Memphis Grizzlies against the #7 seeded and defending champion San Antonio Spurs. You have to figure the veteran Spurs team isn’t worried about their seeding and just want to be in the playoffs. Memphis would be a tough match up for any team in the Western conference, but this would be another great 1st round match up. We could also see the #3 seeded Portland Trailblazers against the #6 seeded Los Angeles Clippers. LaMarcus Aldridge has put off thumb surgery until the end of the season and it doesn’t seem to be affecting him too much. The Clippers of course are the “Lob City” team in the NBA. Just another great match up we could get in the 1st round. In the Eastern conference how interesting would it be to see the #5 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers go against the #4 seed Washington Wizards. It seems like the Cavaliers have worked out a lot of their issues, but Washington matches up well against anyone in the Eastern conference. The Chicago Bulls would be the #3 seed and they would face the upstart #6 seed Milwaukee Bucks. Now the Bulls are playoff tested and Derrick Rose looks healthy, but the Bucks are young and haven’t been in the playoffs in a few seasons; so they might be loose and ready to play. Could you imagine a scenario where we see the #!, #2 and #3 seeds go out in the 1st round of the Western conference playoffs. How about in the Eastern conference where the Bulls could go out in round 1 along with LeBron James and the Cavaliers. These type of scenarios should make the end of the season interesting to see who gets what seed and who’s on the outside looking into the playoffs.
Now the Atlanta Hawks are 43-11 at the All-Star break and have the best record in the Eastern conference by 7 games over the Toronto Raptors, but even with a #1 seed ill they be the favorites to go to the NBA Finals. Interestingly the Raptors play in Atlanta the first game out of the break this Friday, February 20th. Could this be an Eastern conference finals preview? After Friday’s game the Hawks will face to more potential playoff teams. They’ll play the Milwaukee Bucks on February 22nd and then the Dallas Mavericks on February 25th. There still seems to be quite a few talking heads on the television who aren’t sold on the Hawks. In a way I can see this as no one had the Hawks playing like this at the start of the season and they’ll need to prove they belong with the elite clubs come playoff time. Jeff Teague is the Hawks leader in scoring with 17 Points Per Game (PPG) and 7.5 Assists Per Game (APG), but is he considered a superstar in the NBA. The Hawks reflect a team concept that I’m not sure a lot of fans are used to in the NBA where most teams are refered to by one or two top players on that team. How would the NBA handle the Hawks in the NBA finals against the Spurs. We’d get to see Mike Budenholzer coach against his mentor Gregg Popovich, but lets not get to far ahead of ourselves.
The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow February 19th. Goran Dragic has been the hot name rumored to be dealt, but where will he end up. Dragic will be a free agent at the end of the season; so he’s looking like a rent a player type of pick up. There have been a lot of playoff teams associated with Dragic’s name, but one non-playoff team that has come up is the Boston Celtics. While I don’t understand why the Celtics would be interested in Dragic or if he would consider stay with Boston after this season their name has come up. With Amar’e Stoudemire being bought out by the New York Knicks and signing with the Dallas Mavericks you have to wonder if any other big men will be changing teams. Could someone like the Los Angeles Lakers Jordan Hill help a playoff contender. I heard a couple of interesting names pop up in trade talk; David Lee of the Warriors and Jamal Crawford of the Clippers, but I’d be very, very surprised if either of those players were traded.
Jeff Gordon started off his final full-time season in NASCAR by winning the pole for this Sunday’s Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway. The Budweiser Duel races will be run tomorrow (Thursday) to set the rest of the field. The Duel races are two 60 lap, 150 mile races. Jimmie Johnson qualified 2nd for the 500 and will start next to his teammate Gordon on Sunday. The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s biggest race of the season and it always seems a little odd that it’s the first race of the year, but it works for them. NASCAR didn’t make any changes to their Chase format; so they must’ve liked it. We’ll see if we get the same excitement we got last season where winners automatically move into the Chase and the rest of the field is filled in by the drivers with the highest point totals for the season. Gordon will lead the field for Sunday’s race and maybe in his last full-time season he leaves as the Sprint Cup champion.
Follow me on Twitter @Burketime
Listen to Sports Time Radio at BlogTalkRadio.com