The 2012 NBA Playoffs are right around the corner as there are only four days left for regular season games to be played. Last week, I wrote an article on the top five matchups if the season had ended. Considering teams have moved positions in the standings there are now several different matchups that could occur if the postseason started this week. So, I give you if the season ended today these would be the top five matchups to watch version 2.0.
#5 Boston Celtics (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5)
Last week, I had the Boston Celtics versus the Atlanta Hawks as the No. 5 matchup to watch and clearly nothing has changed. I feel this series has the potential to be very good but it really depends on what Atlanta brings to the table. In the beginning of the season I thought Boston was too old to make an impact in the playoffs, but now that the season is coming to a close I realize I was mistaken. The Celtics may not have what it takes to win the Eastern Conference but they will certainly give someone a run for their money.
#4 Los Angeles Lakers (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)
In last week’s article the Los Angeles Lakers were set to take on the Dallas Mavericks as the No. 1 postseason matchup to watch for. Now, the Mavericks have dropped in the standings and the Lakers will be matching up against the Denver Nuggets. Denver has gotten hot as of late and could potentially give Los Angeles a difficult time, especially if Metta World Peace is unable to play due to a possible suspension after he elbowed James Harden in the head. Ty Lawson could be the difference maker if he can handle the pressure of the postseason.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (5)
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have the Los Angeles Clippers on the right path going into the playoffs. They have won eight of their last 10 games and are clicking on all cylinders. It will take a physical team to stop them and that is exactly what the Memphis Grizzlies are capable of doing. Memphis is currently on a four-game winning streak and has also won eight of their last 10 games. Keeping Griffin grounded will be quite the challenge but Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph should be able to handle it.
#2 Miami Heat (2) vs. New York Knicks (1)
The Miami Heat seem to have what it takes to reach the NBA Finals for the second consecutive season, but the New York Knicks are getting hot at the right time and could prove to be a difficult first-round opponent. New York has looked sluggish this season, but after hard-fought battles against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers they are guaranteed the seventh seed. Carmelo Anthony has been phenomenal in recent weeks and Amar’e Stoudemire has returned to the lineup after missing 13 games due to a sore back.
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7)
It may be a surprise to see the No.7 seeded Mavericks taking on the No.1 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder for the top matchup in the first round of the playoffs, but it has the potential to be electric. Dallas will be defending their NBA Championship from last season while Oklahoma City will prove that they have what it takes to go the distance this year. The one unknown variable is the effect of possibly having Harden out of the lineup after he took an elbow to the head against the Lakers. The Thunder’s training staff stated Harden had to leave the game due to a concussion and there is no timetable set for his return. He is a heavy favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year award and his absence could give the Mavericks a shot at the upset. Watching Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki attempt to lead their team to victory will be very entertaining.