NBA Playoffs 2012, The regular season is over, 16 teams have moved on to the 2012 NBA Playoffs and the others have gone fishing. Over the next couple of months the playoff teams will compete for the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy and one of them will be crowned NBA champions.
Here is one fan’s ranking of the 16 playoff teams based on their chances of becoming 2012 NBA Champions.
Possible Conference Finalists
Rank 1: San Antonio Spurs (Record: 50-16, West’s First Seed)
After a compacted 66-game schedule, the Spurs come into the 2012 NBA Playoffs with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all healthy. If they can remain healthy, San Antonio will have a legitimate chance at winning their fifth NBA championship.
Rank 2: Miami Heat (Record: 46-20, East’s Second Seed)
After two full-seasons together, there are no more excuses for the Miami Heat All-Star Trio of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Rank 3: Chicago Bulls (Record: 50-16, East’s First Seed)
Winning 50 games during the regular season with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton in and out of the lineup is one thing. But if even one of those guys is forced to miss time during the playoffs, getting to 16 wins in the postseason will be a difficult task.
Rank 4: Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 41-25, West’s Third Seed)
The longer the Lakers’ series against the Denver Nuggets goes, the fewer games Metta World Peace will miss in a likely second-round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Rank 5: Oklahoma City Thunder (Record: 47-19, West’s Second Seed)
Turnovers led to Oklahoma City’s demise in last year’s playoffs. Unless Russell Westbrook and the Thunder take better care of the ball, turnovers will eventually lead to their downfall this year as well.
Rank 6: Boston Celtics (Record: 39-27, East’s Fourth Seed)
Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are making their last stand as the Celtics’ core. They hope this final run will be just as successful as their first run together in 2008, when they won the NBA championship.
Two Other Likely First-Round Winners
Rank 7: Memphis Grizzlies (Record: 41-25, West’s Fourth Seed)
Last year, the Grizzlies won their first playoff game and first playoff series in franchise history. This year they have home-court advantage for the first time.
Rank 8: Indiana Pacers (Record: 42-24, East’s Third Seed)
Indiana has home-court advantage in the playoffs for the first time in eight years. With the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic as their first-round opponent, the Pacers are likely to make it to the second round for the first time since 2005.
Teams Capable of Defeating a Higher Seed
Rank 9: Dallas Mavericks (Record: 36-30, East’s Seventh Seed)
The defending NBA champions will open the playoffs against a Thunder team with revenge on its mind.
Rank 10: Atlanta Hawks (Record: 40-26, East’s Fifth Seed)
The Hawks have made it to the second round three years in a row. The last time they lost a first-round series was a 4-3 defeat to the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Rank 11: Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 40-26, East’s Fifth Seed)
The Clippers had multiple opportunities to lock up home-court advantage in the first round. But they dropped three of their final four games and will open the 2012 NBA Playoffs in Memphis instead of hosting the Grizzlies at the Staples Center.
Rank 12: New York Knicks (Record: 36-30, East’s Seventh Seed)
If Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire can carry New York’s offensive load; if Tyson Chandler can produce some offense while anchoring the Knicks’ defense; and if Steve Novak can consistently knock down three pointers, New York might have a chance at pulling off the upset. But that is just too many “ifs.”
Probable First-Round Casualties
Rank 13: Denver Nuggets (Record: 38-28, East’s Seventh Seed)
The Nuggets have faced the Lakers in the playoffs five times. They have lost all five series.
Rank 14: Philadelphia 76ers (Record: 35-31, East’s Eighth Seed)
Philadelphia’s second-year guard Evan Turner, a Chicago native, asked for Derrick Rose and the Bulls and now the 76ers have them.
Rank 15: Utah Jazz (Record: 36-30, East’s Eighth Seed)
The Jazz have the tools to duplicate the surprising upset that the Grizzlies pulled off last year. Unfortunately, they are matching up against a healthy Spurs team that is looking to erase the memories of last season’s embarrassment.
Rank 16: Orlando Magic (Record: 37-29, East’s Sixth Seed)
The Magic were 4-8 in games without Dwight Howard this season and only one of those wins came against a playoff team. (Yahoo! Sports)