The 2012 NBA Playoffs are right around the corner and many teams have already clinched berths. There are currently two spots open in the Eastern Conference while there are four in the Western Conference. The teams that have clinched are still fighting for positioning in the standings which means every game counts.
New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks are fighting for the last two spots in the East. The Knicks seem to be running away with the seventh seed while it is going to come down to the wire for the eighth spot. Philadelphia has a one and a half game lead over Milwaukee, but they still have to play each other one more time this year.
Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks all look to be secure in the West while the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets are fighting for the last playoff spot. The Suns and Rockets are currently tied as each team owns a 32-29 record. If the season ended today, Phoenix would be in as they own the tie-breaker.
With all of this excitement here are my top five predictions involving the playoffs.
#5 Phoenix Suns Clinch 8th Seed
The Suns will clinch the eight seed in the West and reach the postseason for the third time in five years. Unfortunately, that is as far as they go due to the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder (whichever team is the first seed) sweeping them in the first round.
#4 Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals
This is not much of a bold prediction considering everyone in their right mind has had these two teams in the Eastern Conference Finals before the season started. There is simply no team in the East that can match the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat on the national stage with the season on the line. Both teams have too many talented players to let a shot at a NBA title slip away without a legitimate fight. I pick the Heat to advance to the Finals.
#3 Oklahoma City Thunder-Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals
Oklahoma City has been outstanding this season and is clearly the team to beat in the West. They have the size, the athleticism and the talent to do it all. Even the Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe Bryant, cannot stop Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The games will be close but the series will not be. I pick the Thunder to advance to the Finals.
#2 Milwaukee Bucks Clinch 8th Seed
This is probably the boldest prediction I have made all year but I stand by it. I believe the Bucks will shock 76ers fans and clinch the eighth seed on the second-to-last day of the season. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will go off over the next week defeating every opponent they face. They will even give the Bulls a run for their money in the first round of the postseason.
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder Wins NBA Finals
This may or may not be a bold prediction but it is definitely something I have been saying all year. Oklahoma City has what it takes to win an NBA Championship and they are going to prove it to the world by defeating Miami. The Heat will be stumped again by a Western foe and fans will question what it will take for the “Big Three” to win a title.