NBA Playoffs: Five Teams that Could Force Upsets

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NBA Playoffs: Five Teams that Could Force Upsets

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are many interesting storylines heading into the NBA postseason this year and it surely looks like it could be a year full of upsets and darkhorses. Sure, there are some clear favorites as well, but there are a plethora of interesting match-ups and certain dynamics that make this year's postseason nearly impossible to predict.

It's already been a year full of surprises, injuries, returns, and the whole season has just had this thin layer of unpredictability running through it, which means this NBA postseason could be the year of the underdogs. There has been a lack of consistency in play and most teams that have been hot have also been just as cold, and in some cases, there have been teams that have nearly lost their seasons because of slow starts or just not playing up to the level that they were "supposed" to be playing.

A quiet and cautious trade deadline shows that even the lower seeded teams are skeptical of making any major line up or personnel changes. Overall, there has been a lack of quit in general league-wide this year and that can never be considered a negative quality as even the first round of the playoffs this year could hold some big surprises and upsets.

Here's five teams that each may be their own distance away from being labeled a "favorite" or "contender" but none the less five teams that are more than capable of knocking off a higher seeded team or putting themselves together an unexpected deep run.

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Chicago Bulls

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls are an interesting case. They've been a bit inconsistent lately but the fate of their postseason run lies in the return or no return of Derrick Rose. Rose has been cleared to play but continues to take it slow. If the Bulls were a decent team without Rose on both ends of the floor, just imagine what adding a former MVP back into the line-up would do to this teams confidence and overall play. No contender wants to play a Rose infused Bulls squad. The only question that remains is if Rose decides to come back, it certainly looks like he's more than capable of doing so, but being so young and suffering such a serious injury could keep him sidelined until next season. Either way, the Bulls won't go down easy.

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Denver Nuggets

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The Denver Nuggets have had a red-hot second half of the season. They have taken out contenders and their offense is running full-throttle as well as being above average on the defensive end and in rebounding. Andre Igoudala will step up as the leader of his squad come playoff time as he's had much more experience there then those around him. When the Nuggets get hot, they are hard to cool down. There is a lot of size as well as scoring to match up with here. If the Nuggets can get out and run, the rest of the West should be aware...very aware.

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Memphis Grizzlies

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The Memphis Grizzlies may struggle to put up a lot of points on some nights, but they certainly don't allow them on the other end. The Grizzlies have the leagues best defense in terms of opponents points and they are not going to be an easy team to take care of in the slightest. Zach Randolph is having himself quite the season and the addition of Tayshaun Prince has been one that has surely worked out for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies can beat anyone and make any contender look foolish in the process.

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Boston Celtics

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The Boston Celtics may be having the epitome of a turnaround season. After the Loss of Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics are on a defensive tear and moving up in the Eastern Conference standings at a pretty rapid rate. There are a lot of reasons why no one will want to play the Celtics in the first round: whether Avery Bradley's smothering league-topping defense, or the daunting task of driving the final nail into the Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce coffin, or simply being out-coached by Doc Rivers. The Celtic's seem to change every night they play, which never makes for an easy task.

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Los Angeles Lakers

Crystal LoGuidice-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers could possibly be the biggest underdog of all considering they don't even have a guaranteed playoff seed yet. First things first, don't ever count out Kobe Bryant and his ability to put a team on his back, we've all seen him do it time and time again and there is simply too much leadership there to ignore. Defensively, the Lakers still may be a mess but they are playing their best basketball at the right time. The key to the Lakers success is for all of the big heads to simply get on the same page, including head coach Mike D'antoni. The odds show now that the Lakers will most likely sneak their way into a lower seed but after an awful start, it may just be time for Kobe to take over. They may be a mess in some areas and the bench is not promising, but you just cant count them out...ever.