NBA Playoffs 2012: 4 Teams Destined for Early Postseason Failure
We've all heard about the teams that "get hot" at the right time. It's always a part of NFL postseason speculation and March Madness, as well.
There's room for the discussion in the NBA, too.
With the postseason less than a week away, this slideshow isn't about "who's hot" as much as "who's not."
While fans of the Spurs, Thunder and Bulls are all looking forward to the postseason, some fanbases are preparing for the worst. Their teams are entering the most crucial part of the NBA season playing either their worst basketball of the season or bludgeoned by injury.
Here are some teams who will make the playoffs, but who won't be entering the postseason with much hope of advancing beyond the first round.
Orlando Magic: 4-6 over the last 10 games
This is as much about bad luck and bad timing as anything else.
The Magic have endured more drama than any single NBA team could be rationally expected to deal with over the course of the season.
Dwight Howard has his defenders and his detractors. Neither camp could honestly tell you the current Magic team is better with Howard out of the lineup recovering from back surgery.
Yet that's exactly the scenario the Magic will face when the 2012 NBA playoffs start. A team that heavily relies on its man in the middle will be without his services for the season's most crucial games.
To their credit, the Magic have used the injury and their subsequent underdog status as a rallying point. The team has adopted a credo of "We all we got" as a rallying cry and motivational tool (via the Orlando Sentinel).
The Magic will play hard in the first round and may even steal a game or two from their opponent. But they will feel Howard's absence the most on the defensive side of the floor.
Even a unified team is not likely to overcome that.
Philadelphia 76ers: 4-6 in their last 10 games, 13-16 since All-Star break
It wasn't all that long ago in this compressed NBA season that the 76ers looked like they were on their way to an Atlantic Division title.
Those days are in the past now and the 76ers are fighting for their postseason lives as this season heads toward a conclusion.
Philadelphia is still one of the league's best when it comes to defense and rebounding, and in many cases, relying on those two strengths has proven very beneficial to underdog teams.
The problem is, if the Sixers do in fact hang on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, their first-round opponent will most likely be the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls are the only team in the entire NBA that can boast having both better rebounding and better team defensive numbers than the 76ers. They've also got a much better all-around record.
Chicago has compiled its record while the team's best player, Derrick Rose, has spent nearly a third of the season on the bench nursing various injuries.
If you think that doesn't bode well for the 76ers, you're right.
Dallas Mavericks: 14-16 since All-Star break, 5-5 over the last 10
No one said repeating as NBA champions would be easy. It hasn't been easy so far—that's for sure.
The Mavericks lost key members of their 2011 NBA championship team before the 2011-2012 season had even tipped off.
Tyson Chandler and Jose Juan Barea are both on different teams. Lamar Odom was brought in to Dallas in hopes that his postseason experience and versatile game would add needed depth, but was never comfortable in Dallas and is now inactive.
This season, the Mavericks have struggled to find a consistent groove and, once the postseason starts, it may cost them.
Dallas is currently slated as the No. 7 seed, putting it in line to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.
The Thunder are by no means unbeatable, but they've proven a tough matchup for Dallas this season, winning the head-to-head series 3-1.
Add in Dallas' 13-19 road record, and the Mavericks look like they're in for a much shorter postseason run than they had in 2011.
Utah Jazz: 19-13 since All-Star Break, 6-4 In last 10 games
Wait a second—how do those numbers above represent a team entering the playoffs destined to flop?
As impressive as the Jazz have been in the second half of the NBA season, they've got a huge problem.
Even after the strong showing, they're still slated as of now to be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
That's a problem.
Since the 1984 season, when the current playoff format was laid out, only four times has a No. 8 seed upset a No. 1 seed in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Jazz are very likely to find the San Antonio Spurs as their first-round opponent. It seems highly unlikely the Spurs would fall victim to the exact same type of upset they suffered last season.
The two teams have met three times this season, with San Antonio taking two out of three. In addition, the Jazz have one of the worst road records off all teams currently slated for the postseason.
The Jazz are 11-22 outside of Salt Lake.
Utah will have a tough opponent and road games to tackle in the first round. That combination will be too much to overcome.