The Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Cleveland Cavaliers have secured their places for the upcoming playoffs. The remaining Eastern teams that are still competiting for playoff spots are the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Atlanta Hawks. The former NBA champs, Miami Heat, dropped off from the playoff contenders this season. Lucky for Shaq, the Heat allowed him to be traded to a more competent team in the West.
As for the jampacked Western Conference, there is not a single team that has a secured spot in the playoffs. There are actually nine teams vying for 8 spots. These teams are the New Orleans Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, and Denver Nuggets. Normally, at the beginning of April, the star players of each team are taking less minutes to rest for the upcoming playoffs. But since the difference between teams are 1-6 games, this makes the competition in the West stiffer.
You've probably noticed the not-so-familiar pack of contenders in the West and that there's a single newbie - the New Orleans Hornets. It's still very surprising that they're on top of the list despite the greatness of other Western teams. Their disadvantage though is their inexperience in the playoffs, but overall their good. "I don't know if many people expected us to be where we are. We feel good about it but we're not settling for just 50. We're trying to win the West, trying to seal up the Southwest division. We're going to have to continue to play at a high level," said David West on tying with the defending champs.
The San Antonio Spurs, the defending NBA champions, are slowly gearing up for the playoffs. Pop has made his final touches on the rotation and defense still plays a big role in the team. And Manu Ginobili will definitely get the award as the 6th Man of the Year.
The LA Lakers? Well, as long as KB24 stays healthy, running, and shooting, which he usually does, nothing can stop the Lakers from earning a decent spot in the playoffs.
It's actually the Utah Jazz that has surprised me the most since they were ousted by the Spurs during last year's conference finals. Because they were plain "boring" back then. But now, they scare me. I just hope they don't meet the Spurs at the 1st round. [fingers crossing] "It was a good victory for us," said Deron Williams.
Nash & the rest of the Phoenix Suns were the toughest team to beat in the West. But they've lost a lot of their intensity with the loss of Shawn Marion. They're still in the state of adjusment mainly because of the HUGE change in their lineup since the acquisition of Shaquille O'neal. But don't worry Suns fans, Steve Nash is as determined as ever. "We dug in in the second half," said Amare Stoudemire after the winning against the Nuggets.
Whether Yao is playing or not, the Houston Rockets can still win and they've proven it. What they really need now is a healthy T-Mac and that's all. (O.O) "When you're going up and down and you don't know the players and you haven't been around them that long, you don't want to get buried, especially in the West. You wonder, 'Maybe we should be doing something different,'" said Rockets coach Rick Adelman.
I'm actually troubled about the Dallas Mavericks right now. I've never seen them this unprepared for playoffs. The news say that Dirk Nowitzki is coming back from an injury, which doesn't really guarantee his 100% performance. And Jason Kidd doesn't seem to help the team when Dirk's out. Wake up Mavs!! This isn't the time to doze off. [wins to losing teams were not counted] "With Dirk or without Dirk, it's going to be tough," said Jason Kidd.
Small don't win. And that should stick to the beard of Baron Davis. But "I Believe" that they'll make it to the playoffs. I just hope it's the Lakers that finishes them off on the 1st round. =p Defense rests on Andris on the Spurs-Warriors game
Looks like the Denver Nuggets are having a hard time getting into the playoffs. They've been on the 9th spot for ages. The Nuggets have it all, the offensive and defensive edge, but they lack the most important aspect in playing - consistency. "We had a total meltdown," said Iverson after losing 117-132 against the Suns.
...that's all for now. I hope you liked my short reviews on the nine Western Conference teams. What about the Eastern Conference teams? Soon, maybe. =)
As I was reading this article with letters from the mailbag of the writer, this letter really caught my attention:
"Okay, I want to know exactly what Ginobili eats, what he drinks, how many hours he sleeps, how he practices his shooting, how he prays, what brand of socks he wears, what kind of car he drives... EVERYTHING!!! MANU is the man."
-- Jared, San Francisco
The writer's answer >> Attention, Manu: If you happen to catch a guy rifling through your garbage, it’s probably this guy.
..It's very funny because I've never really read something from that website as desperate as this one. Hahaha!..