Since Dwight Howard decided to stay with the Orlando Magic, his team has not responded well. They are 1-2 over their last three, losing to the Miami Heat at home and to the Chicago Bulls while only scoring 59 points.
The Magic disappointed in last season’s playoffs when they lost their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks 4-2. This season, after no real lineup changes, it looks like they are headed for disappointment yet again.
The New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets all went into last year’s playoffs with hope, but were all denied after first-round eliminations.
Some of the same teams who went home disappointed last year will do the same again this year, while other teams have fixed the problems they had and will likely push through to an extended playoff run.
Here are five teams who will disappoint.
If LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh could not figure out how to play with each other in their first season together why should it be any different with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan?
The Los Angeles Clippers are going to need some time together to reach their potential as a team. They also need a better starting power forward than Caron Butler and to find a way to utilize Nick Young's scoring ability.
This season, the Clippers have looked impressive as they had some big wins over the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat and their in-building rival Los Angeles Lakers.
But they also have lost against the New Jersey Nets, and they needed overtime to overcome the Detroit Pistons last night.
If the playoffs started today, they would be matched up with the Memphis Grizzlies, an experienced group with an inside presence in Marc Gasol and a scorer in Rudy Gay. They also have Zach Randolph and point guard Mike Conley.
Memphis' depth will cause the Clippers to struggle.
After starting out this season 20-9, the Philadelphia Sixers have gone 6-11. They are good defensive team who allow the fewest points per game in the league.
But their problem is scoring—they only average 94.4 points per game, which ranks them 21st in the league.
They are a team with a lot of good players, but not one great player.
Lou Williams is their leading scorer with 15.8 points per game. Spencer Hawes is their leading rebounder with eight rebounds per game. Andre Iguodala is their leading assist man with 5.6 assists per game.
Their fast-break offense will be stopped in the playoffs, as teams play more defense. And without their break working, they'll have even more trouble putting points on the board.
Currently, they are matched up with the Indiana Pacers in the first round. The Pacers are basically two deep at every position. They also have five players averaging double figures in points per game.
After letting their best defender last season, Tyson Chandler, basically go to the New York Knicks in free agency, the Dallas Mavericks gave up any realistic shot at defending their title.
The acquisitions of Vince Carter and Lamar Odom have left them an aging, marginal team.
But at 27-20, the Mavs have still managed to be respectable. They will hit the wall when the playoffs arrive.
Currently, their first-round series will be against the post-trade deadline, new-look Los Angeles Lakers.
Don't think for a second that Kobe Bryant forgot or got over Dallas' sweep of the Lakers in last year's playoffs.
This year, the Lakers have beat the Mavs twice already and if the matchup holds up, they will be out for blood.
After head coach Mike D'antoni re-signed, the New York Knicks are playing much better. They're currently on a three-game winning streak after beating the Portland Trail Blazers and the Indiana Pacers twice.
Still, one has to wonder if this is just another illusion just like Jeremy Lin and "Linsanity."
With all of their high-priced talent, the Knicks still do not have a winning record and are just 21-24 on the season.
Before their three-game win streak, they had a six-game losing streak.
If they would have played up to their potential all season, they could have drawn an easier opponent in the first round of the playoffs, but as of now they're currently the eighth seed set to face the Chicago Bulls, owners of the best record in the NBA.
The Knicks are so inconsistent, I would not be surprised if they get swept in the first round just like they did last year against the Boston Celtics.
Unless the Orlando Magic's outside shooters are hitting their threes at a high percentage and Dwight Howard is making his free throws, this team will struggle in every playoff game.
Especially with Howard's one foot out the door, since he only has agreed to stay for one more season, not long term.
The Magic is a flawed team and are missing a player who can create his own shot on a regular basis.
In last year's playoffs, they faced the Atlanta Hawks and lost in the opening round series in six games. If the playoffs started today, the Magic would be playing them again.
While the Atlanta Hawks have lost Al Horford for the season due to injury, Zaza Pachulia has played well in his absence, picking up the slack all season by long averaging 7.5 points along with 7.5 rebounds per game.
Because of Pachulia's strong efforts, along with the rest of the roster raising their play, the Hawks have secured the sixth spot with a 26-20 record.
Josh Smith and Joe Johnson will be a problem for Orlando since the Magic do not have a player to guard either one of them.
More Dwight rumors will start up yet again.