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NBA Weekly Roundtable Week 10: The 8th Seed Race And Injury Bugs

Jacob Freedman, Bo Kwan, Law Murray |
April 4, 2013 | 10:30 a.m. PDT

Staff Writers

The Jazz are trying to make the playoffs in two out of three years since Deron Williams left Utah (Stegas4/Wikimedia Commons).
The Jazz are trying to make the playoffs in two out of three years since Deron Williams left Utah (Stegas4/Wikimedia Commons).
There are less than 10 games less in the regular season. Things are more settled in the Eastern Conference, but the final playoff spot out west is up for grabs. Injuries are also taking their toll on the postseason, while the Miami Heat's stunning streak is finally over. We've got you covered in this week's roundtable. 

1) The resurgent Dallas Mavericks might be back in the playoff race, moving 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. Only one of the three teams can make the playoffs as the eighth seed though, so which squad do you expect it to be?

Jacob Freedman: The Lakers will get in. Dallas has the easiest remaining schedule, but Tuesday night's loss to the Lakers drastically decreased their odds. Five of the Lakers' last seven games are against playoff teams, but all five of those are at Staples Center. The Jazz had their five-game winning streak snapped last night, and will likely need four wins in their last seven to keep up with L.A. I don't see that happening.

Bo Kwan: I expect the Lakers to get the last ticket to the playoffs. No matter how bad their performance can be, the Lakers always bring the drama and the playoffs will be boring if they're absent.

Law Murray: I fully expect the Los Angeles Lakers to overtake the Jazz by one game. The Mavericks pretty much eliminated themselves by losing three straight to the Lake Show. The Lakers don't have an easy schedule, but they only leave Los Angeles just once until the season is over (Portland), while the Jazz, who have lost eight of their last nine on the road, have three more bouts away from home. 

Ty Lawson's injury could crush what was the NBA's second-hotttest team (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons).
Ty Lawson's injury could crush what was the NBA's second-hotttest team (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons).
2) Late season injuries can derail a playoff team’s performance in the postseason, and a flurry of players have been going down the past few weeks. Which surefire playoff team do you think will be the most hurt by an injury that happened last month?

Freedman: He struggled mightily in the five games he did play, but I think Danny Granger being done for the season will hurt the Indiana Pacers come playoff time. They lead the league in rebounds and rank second in points allowed, but can often be at a loss for points with Paul George and Roy Hibbert being the offensive focal points. Granger would have provided the individual scoring ability that becomes so valuable in a series, where scouting reports can hone in and lock down on more limited offensive players. We'll never know how good this year's Pacers could have been with Granger, but they'll be hard-pressed to top the Knicks or Heat without a dynamic scorer at the ready.

Kwan: The Heat are the team that could be hurt the most. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers have sat the last few games. That's 90 percent of the team's firepower right now, and if any of those three miss games in the postseason then the Heat could be in trouble. 

Murray: First of all, good teams/deep teams with a good locker room and coaching won't use injuries as an excuse for being outplayed. That said, I think the injury to Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson hurts the Nuggets more than any other injury. Lawson is the best creator on the team, as well as the leading scorer on a team that notably has no All-Stars. It would be a shame if he wasn't ready in April.

Chris Bosh probably isn't sad the Heat's winning streak is over (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons).
Chris Bosh probably isn't sad the Heat's winning streak is over (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons).
3) The Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak came to a halt last week. Do you think it would have been better for the Heat to tie or beat the Lakers’ record of 33 games, or does having the streak snapped at 27 present an advantage for Miami heading into the postseason? 

Freedman: No one is probably happier (besides the 1971-72 Lakers) the streak is over than the Heat. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers have been sitting this past week with sudden "injuries", and will likely rest a few more games before the season is done. The streak takes off the pressure to pursue the record books, and instead allows the Heat to recharge in time to blow through the Eastern Conference before taking on a Western squad for their second straight title. It's all part of the master plan.

Kwan: I never think a long winning streak is an advantage for a team. Instead, it is a psychological burden for players, coaches and fans. A good team never focuses on stats and records, but on its on-court performance every minute.

Murray: Having the streak snapped is great for the Heat's title defense. Early in the season, center Chris Bosh talked about how it is hard to get up for every game during the season. Now, the Heat can't say their best accomplishment was a 27-game winning streak. This season is a disappointment if they fail to defend the title, and now they will rest and be prepared to win 16 postseason games again.



 

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