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Playoff scenarios: The East is set, the West we need Stephen Hawking to explain

Apr 12, 2011, 9:54 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Back East they have their act together. They’ve planned in advance and they know what they want to do for the playoffs.

Out West they have procrastinated. Always waiting to the last second. And the whole thing is complicated. Trigonometry complicated. Bring in Stephen Hawking and Brian Green to explain it complicated.

So we’ll start with the easy side.

Eastern Conference

Everything is set — these are your playoff matchups

No. 1 Chicago vs. No. 8 Indiana: Not much of a series here, the question is can Indiana even steal a game.

No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7: Philadelphia: Philly is capable of making this difficult for Miami — but the 76ers have to get healthy. Lou Williams’ hamstring and needs to be back at 100 percent, Andre Iguodala needs to get right. Elton Brand’s hand has to be better. And even if all those things do come together they probably win two games in the series.

No. 3 Boston vs. No. 6 New York: Boston is going to win this, but it could be entertaining. Boston limps into the playoffs while the Knicks are hot… but we got fooled by Boston limping into the playoffs last season. We won’t be fooled again. Boston is flawed but the Knicks are not the team to expose them.

No. 4 Orlando vs. No. 5 Atlanta: Orlando has dominated this matchup in recent years, but Atlanta is counting on Jason Collins to change that. Sure, that will work.

Western Conference

The easy part: San Antonio is the top seed.

Now it gets messy — ESPN’s John Hollinger says there are still 128 scenarios that could play out — and the West is going to go down to Wednesday night no matter what happens Tuesday….

Dallas, with their overtime win Monday, moves into second place in the West (56-25) by half a game over the Lakers, however, the Lakers still have the tiebreaker over Dallas and control their own destiny. Win out and Los Angeles the two seed. Which sounds simple enough except for that five-game losing streak.

For the Lakers they have to beat San Antonio Tuesday night. Now get Oliver Stone in here and let’s talk conspiracy — if the Lakers lose to the Spurs they will be tied with Oklahoma City for the three/four seed, and the team that is the four seed faces San Antonio in the second round. San Antonio wants to avoid the Lakers as long as possible. So don’t be shocked if the Spurs rest guys. However, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says that is not happening because the Bulls remain right on the Spurs heels for the best record overall. We’ll see who the Spurs give the big minutes to tonight.

That game will answer some questions but it’s still a mess. Suffice to say that the Lakers, Mavericks and Thunder all can basically finish anywhere from two to four seeds, and we will not know the answers until the games are over Wednesday night.

Denver is the five seed. That’s locked in.

The Portland/Memphis/New Orleans scenarios for seeds six, seven and eight make the Lakers/Mavericks/Thunder scenarios look simple. Honestly, I’m not even going to try and lay out all the possibilities because you have better things to do all day than read playoff scenarios

Tonight’s Portland vs. Memphis game is huge though. Portland wins and they are locked in at the six seed.  Memphis is currently the seven seed and that’s the spot nobody wants because it means the Lakers in the first round… unless the Lakers lose to the Spurs tonight, in which case it would be better to be the seven seed than the six seed…. Oh, and if Memphis beats Portland Tuesday and the Clippers Wednesday, then the Grizzlies will be the six seed. So Blazers/Grizzlies is a big game with big implications.

Just check back tomorrow and we’ll lay out the final night of the West and how it can all go down. For now, just enjoy Memphis vs. Portland. (We’d say enjoy Los Angeles versus San Antonio, too, but we sense a dud.)

  1. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    its my favorite time of the year, its the time when anything can happen. im going to enjoy a great deal of playoffs series. rickey d. had better come up with a good plan, because i want my knicks to go pass boston in the 1round, that would make my season.

    • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      Several very potentially compelling story lines can, and likely will, come out of this years NBA Playoffs. IMO the field that made the playoffs this year in the NBA is the most compelling since Michael Jordan took the baton from Magic Johnson back in 1990.

      SI released who’s going to be on the cover of this weeks issue and in a very rare move, folks it’s not the relative unknown who won the Masters last weekend, but it’s Derrick Rose driving on Paul Gasol with the NBA Playoff Preview on the cover. I’m not “anti-Lakers”, but I would enjoy watching the wheels finally falloff their considerably overloaded bandwagon.

      I live in the LA basin and folks, let me tell you, there are WAY too many Laker fans who are trying to live their lives vicariously through the Lakers (and we all know who on this board live in Orange County, CA within driving distance of the Anaheim Honda Center who do, don’t we?)!!

      Could this be dejavu all over again? That is to say, will SI be right (for a change), in their finals matchup projection and this will be the year that Rose takes the baton from Kobe just as Jordan’s Bulls did from Magic’s Lakers back in 1990?

      I don’t think (nor hope), that the Lakers will get out of the West, but all the off days in between playoff games clearly play to their favor (as for example the much younger legs of the Thunder shouldn’t be able to simply run the older Lakers right off the floor).

      Over and above the story of this years surprising Bulls run, we’ll also get to watch to see if Boston still has one more fight left in them and how far La Bum and D-Wade can go without a decent point guard to determine which one of them gets to hog the ball from game to game too.

      • chargerdillon - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:27 PM

        Clearly you’re very anti-Lakers in virtually every statement you make about them.

        Derrick Rose is not even close to the player Jordan was, and there’s several players that Kobe would be passing the baton to before Rose.

        Is it really clever or funny to continue to call Lebron James, La Bum? I mean really? He’s a great young basketball player with lots of charisma that could buy and sell your whole family on a daily basis. The last thing Lebron is, is a bum.

        So im trying to figure this out, you clearly dont like Gasol, Lebron, Lakers in general….

        You do like the bulls/rose, kendrick perkins, and bitching about the Lakers

        You sound like a hardcore Bulls fan from the 90’s who was probably their biggest fan when they were winning with Jordan, but now that they havent been great for a long time, you hate fans of other teams that are successful.

        The last thing you should want to see is a Bulls vs Lakers final

      • mytthor - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:31 PM

        1991 was the year to which you refer.

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        mytho… OK

        I just find the NBA year to sometimes be a bit confusing because the NBA playoffs oftentimes last into June of the following calendar year.

      • loungefly74 - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:40 PM

        “live in the LA basin and folks, let me tell you, there are WAY too many Laker fans who are trying to live their lives vicariously through the Lakers…”;”considerably overloaded bandwagon.”
        ******************************************************************************
        People in Cali are bandwagon Laker fans? whaaaa? what kind of people do you hang out with? of course fans get passionate about their teams. i would expect that part of the country to be Laker fans…should they be fans of the Knicks? i don’t understand your statement, well, i do actually, and it just comes off as being a hater. and thats okay, hate all you want but my Lakers are the champs and i’m loving it.

        so who is your team? who do you think will win the title? are you from indiana?

        as far as the Gasol trade, i don’t believe in conspiracies. besides, all super star trades are lopsided. including this year’s melo and d.will trades.

        and about your Brady comment, (49er fan here, yes, i was born and raised in cali), Brady does not need to be montana..he is tom freakin’ brady! the guy is already a legend. and joe (it breaks my heart to relive the bad memories) lost several playoff games as well. you can’t win them all.

        i do agree that the Perkins to Thunder may be the biggest “true and meaningful” trade of the season though…he does make the thunder title contenders.

      • loungefly74 - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:31 PM

        Clearly you’re very anti-Lakers in virtually every statement you make about them.
        Derrick Rose is not even close to the player Jordan was, and there’s several players that Kobe would be passing the baton to before Rose.
        Is it really clever or funny to continue to call Lebron James, La Bum? I mean really? He’s a great young basketball player with lots of charisma that could buy and sell your whole family on a daily basis. The last thing Lebron is, is a bum.
        So im trying to figure this out, you clearly dont like Gasol, Lebron, Lakers in general….
        You do like the bulls/rose, kendrick perkins, and bitching about the Lakers
        You sound like a hardcore Bulls fan from the 90′s who was probably their biggest fan when they were winning with Jordan, but now that they havent been great for a long time, you hate fans of other teams that are successful.
        The last thing you should want to see is a Bulls vs Lakers final
        ******************************************************************************************************
        yes chargerdillon. exactly. i bet purdueman said the exact same stuff last year about how the Lakers were going to suck.i don’t get purdueman as well. he is just playing devil’s advocate.

    • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:50 PM

      chargerdillon… I don’t dislike Gasol at all; I just hate the totally shady way Stern greased him going over to the Lakers in order to get Kobe to finally shut up about wanting to be traded. At that point in time, the Lakers were the only real marketable big market team that the NBA had to offer TV and Stern wasn’t about to just sit back in the hopes that America would suddenly get interested in either small market San Antonio or small market Phoenix.

  2. purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    The one series that I hope happens is the Lakers against the Thunder. I’d love to see Perkins mop up the floor with old softy Gasol!

    • schoolboy834 - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      yup with is 6 points 8 boards a game he most def mops up everyone

      • andyhr17 - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:49 PM

        Great defense doesn’t have to translate to a packed box score. Bruce Bowen averaged 6 points, 1 assist, and 3 rebound a game for his career. He was an excellent defender though and a big part of the Spurs.

    • chargerdillon - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Maybe you just don’t like Spanish people?

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:27 PM

        LOL! It has nothing to do with Gasol’s ancestral homeland chargerd…

        I’m still steamed at the way Stern greased the skids to simply allow Memphis to hand Gasol to the Lakers on a silver platter in one of the biggest farcical trades in NBA history.

        As you may recall, Kobe was grousing about being on a losing team back then and rattling his cell door with a tin cup to get traded, and Stern certainly didn’t want that to happen because at the time the Knicks, Bulls and Celtics were all mediocre at best and Stern more than anyone realizes the he needs to constantly feed the TV beast in order to keep those big royalty rights checks coming in and that doesn’t happen when small market San Antonio is your marque team.

  3. purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    schoolboy (or are you really rotogeekstatguy?), it’s not about stats, it’s about “W’s”

  4. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    ask boston if they think 6 points 8 boards are of any value. dude perk brings somthing that less than half the bigs in the league bring, he plays the game the whole time hes on the floor. hes one of true lunch pail men in the league

    • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      schoolboy, don’t look now but your match against dysraw just went game, set, match and it ain’t you that’s on the winning end of the Perkins argument!

      • schoolboy834 - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:22 PM

        lol my argument is that perkins will certainly not “mop the floor” with gasol. In every category statistically gasol is superior, and it doesnt matter how much toughness and how much he “plays the game the whole time hes on the floor” gasol is still going to get his and perkins cant do much about it besides snarl. (mainly because he doesnt even guard him!)

        I think many people overrate perkins. I agree that he brings a different element defensively to a team, and it makes the Thunder much more potent inside defensively. It allows them to match up better with the other contenders, and he is a great 1 on 1 post defender. But seriously, perkins is a 0 on offense. he cannot shoot free throws. he doesnt block shots. He didnt close important playoff games with boston. Not many people are afraid to drive the lane because he is cloggin it, since he is not a true shot blocker. Hes a 25-30 minute a night player. A role player.

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        schoolboy… the Thunder I’m sure didn’t trade for Perkins because they were looking for any offense from him. They traded for him to free up Durant, and that makes the deal priceless for the Thunder.

  5. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    and i hate boston

    • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      Now that the ultimate hot air gasbag (Auerbach), is finally in a better place, I’m ambivalent about the Celtics but I do think that Boston takes the prize for having the biggest gasbag Homers of any city.

      Hey Boston fan, do you realize that “the next Joe Montana” (as so many Patriotcheat fans like to refer to Buttchin Tom Brady), has gone one and out in the playoffs now three consecutive years in a row now? That ain’t Joe Montana, trust me!

      • dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        due dont talk football i still havnt recovered.

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        dysr… I hear ya! (about not being recovered from last football season yet). Maybe you’re a Bears fan? Now there’s a fan base that has a lot of recovering to do after their inexplicable no-show in last seasons NFC Championship game!

        Despite the current lockout though, we’re all stuck with the fact that the NFL draft is now only about 19 days away so it’s going to be tough to duck all the coverage that we’re about to get bombarded with. (LOL!)

    • chargerdillon - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      While I like Kendrick Perkins and I considered Bostons title run over the second they traded him, I have to ask this question because there are so many Perkins defenders on here….

      If he is so good, so worth having, why would they let him go?

      If money is the issue, and the player is worth it, the player gets paid.

      How many 7footers do you know come back from knee surgery and win rings?

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        chargerdillon… simple answer to your question:

        1) Boston GM Danny Ainge recognized that the Celtics needed to get younger on the wing. Ever since the NBA eliminated hand checking, it’s turned into a guard league, not the low post dominant center league it was back before the merger with the ABA begrudgingly brought the three point line into the league with it.

        Before you ask, “then why would the Thunder give up a young wing guy for a center?”, the answer to that is because they had the adequate depth to do so and needed to both get tougher in the paint as well as bring in some needed playoff experience and leadership to their young team. Simply put, bringing in Perkins makes Durant a better player because it frees him up in the post; and

        2) Money WAS part of the equation, as the Thunder were able to offer a much bigger contract extension than Boston was willing to offer (Ainge even volunteered that information). Boston didn’t want to go into luxury tax land, and is/was also understandably concerned about the salary cap being lowered under a new CBA, which in turn would lower the bar for the luxury tax as well.

  6. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    im not say the guy is say a tim duncan, hes a hard worker & because hes a worker hes a presents the whole time hes on the floor

  7. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    no way on gods green earth do the celtics come out of the east

    • andyhr17 - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      Seems like everyone said that last year. I’m not saying the same thing will happen this year….I’m just saying that was the exact quote by many last year. That’s why they play the games. Hell, going into the NCAA tournament there was no way in hell VCU was getting to the Final Four, let alone out of the first round. No way a team like George Mason can make it to the Final Four. There’s always a way. Don’t count them out before they’ve even played a game in the playoffs.

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:07 PM

        That’s being more than fair. Boston has a ton of playoff experience, a good (but I think overrated), point guard, a good shooting guard in Allen who can take over any game if gets hot, the aging Celtics will greatly benefit from all the days off in between playoff games, BUT if Boston is counting on Shaq to haul his fat ass out of a wheelchair to save them, they’re in a heap of trouble without Perkins!

      • dysraw1 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:04 AM

        dude even the celts know they are done losing perk & nate is gonna hurt them bad.

      • andyhr17 - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        Did you really just make the case that the Celtics know they’re done partly because they traded Nate Robinson? Really?

  8. loungefly74 - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    several teams can win it all this year…the drama will be high.
    i hoping my LAKERS win it all AGAIN this year. (yeah, born and raised in Cali). they have a legitimate shot as they are the back to back defending champs. don’t count out the champs.

    • dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      lakers better hope they dont draw portland in the first round

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        dysraw… Here’s hoping though that they do! (i.e., Lakers draw Portland in the first round)

        If the Lakers win both their remaining games then they are assured of the #2 overall seed in the West, but unlike Boston last night, Popovich has no intentions of suddenly resting his starters and simply laying down because of the Bulls being right on the Spurs tails for the overall #1 seed for the playoffs.

  9. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    hey purdueman u dont think my knicks r gonna lay down 4 the bulls do u

    • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      Only if your Knicks are playing my Bulls in a fantasy league; that’s about the only chance they’d have against the Bulls this year, unless Rose happens to get hit by a bus or suddenly gets the urge to go out and buy a motorcycle that he doesn’t know how to ride (remember Jay Williams of Duke doing that after the Bulls had drafted him something like 2nd in the entire draft and then piling into a tree just blocks from the dealership where he had just bought it?).

      Assuming that both Boozer and Noah can actually manage for a change to stay healthy through the playoffs, aside from the obvious (Rose), the two things that make the Bulls very tough matchups for teams like the Knicks (who have no bench), are the Bulls depth and their ability to bring six fouls off the bench in the paint if they need to (Asik and Thomas).

      • purdueman - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:03 PM

        The Bulls are playing the Knicks tonight and came out at the start of the 3rd period and promptly outscored the Knicks on a 26-2 run, mainly due to terrific defense. Noah and Boozer just flat out own the paint right now, but in fairness to the Knicks Amarie isn’t playing either.

  10. dysraw1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    i meant the game this evening, which my guys already got smashed.

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