Best- and Worst-Case Scenario for Every Remaining NBA Playoff Team

Bradlee Ross@rossbeCorrespondent IIMay 18, 2012

Best- and Worst-Case Scenario for Every Remaining NBA Playoff Team

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    We are midway through the second round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, and so much has changed since the playoffs began. There have been upsets and changes, so now it is time to look and see exactly what teams should expect moving forward.

    For some teams, their best- and worst-case scenarios remain the same. The championship contenders are still contenders and many teams that had no hope still don't. Then there are the teams in the middle who are hoping high.

    Here's the best- and worst-case scenario for every remaining NBA playoff team.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Best-Case Scenario: Winning an NBA championship.

    The goal for the Thunder has not changed. This young team has yet to lose a game in this playoffs and has found a way to win even when it isn't playing well. Winning a title would make Kevin Durant potentially the best player in the league, and that is still the best-case scenario.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Losing four straight to the Lakers

    A collapse in this series would kill this young team's confidence. They've done so well in building that confidence and learning to work together, but a collapse now could have major effects on this team for years to come. It would also mean that the Lakers playoff monkey would still be on the team's back, which is never a good thing.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Best-Case Scenario: An NBA Finals appearance

    Many have said that this Lakers team is capable of reaching the NBA Finals. Right now, that is still the best-case scenario. Winning it against what will probably be the Miami Heat might be a tall order, but getting there is still within reach.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Getting swept in the second round for the second consecutive year

    Last year, the Lakers had a similar playoff experience to what has happened this year. They had a tough first-round series with the New Orleans Hornets just like they did this year with the Denver Nuggets. Then, the Lakers went down 0-2 in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks, just like this year with the Thunder.

    Last year, they gave up and got swept. Whether or not this Lakers team has learned from last year will remain to be seen.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Best-Case Scenario: An NBA Championship

    The San Antonio Spurs are clicking on all cylinders right now. They swept the Utah Jazz easily in the first round and now have a dominant edge over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs are an amazing blend of youth and experience, and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can lead this team to greatness.

    Worst-Case Scenario: A second-round collapse

    Another early collapse like the one the Spurs had against Memphis last season would be extremely harmful to this squad. It could signal the end of this dynasty as we know it, leading to the departure of Duncan, Ginobili or Parker. That would be terrible.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Best-Case Scenario: An NBA Finals Appearance

    The Los Angeles Clippers probably have the least likely chances of reaching the NBA Finals of any team left in the playoffs. However, there is still a chance. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are an impressive duo, and they need to step up if this team is going to advance this far.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Getting swept in dominant fashion by the Spurs

    Getting dominated by the Spurs in this way would mean that, despite the acquisition of Chris Paul and the turnaround, this team is still not ready to contend for a title. The Clippers are very talented, but the defense and intangibles are not as present in them as one would like.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Best-Case Scenario: Advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals

    The Philadelphia 76ers have been a great story this season. From their hot start to their upset of the Chicago Bulls in the first round, this team has been fun to watch and follow. However, they cannot win the East. Advancing past this round against Boston is the best they can do.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Getting dominated by Boston in two more games

    The 76ers need to keep the rest of this series close. Game 2 was a thorough beating, and the Sixers cannot let it happen again. If they lose this series in an embarrassing fashion, it could break the will of this team going forward or persuade management to make changes.

Boston Celtics

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    Best-Case Scenario: An NBA Championship

    If the Boston Celtics continue to play as they did in Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers, they'll win the NBA title. Despite their age, the Celtics fit together better and play better defense than any other current playoff team.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Getting eliminated by Philadelphia

    Getting bounced out of the playoffs by the Sixers would prove that Boston is simply to old to contend any longer. Despite having Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and a few other younger players, the Celtics' core is older than any left in the playoffs. Losing to an inferior squad like Philadelphia might be a sign of things to come for this current roster.

Indiana Pacers

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    Best-Case Scenario: An NBA title

    It might surprise many, but this Indiana Pacers team is capable of winning a title this season. It may be unlikely given the teams they'd need to beat, but it is possible nonetheless. If this young team keeps winning, the confidence it could gain will make it dangerous.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Giving away the series against Miami

    The Pacers must make Miami earn their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Even if they can't beat Miami, they can't make it easier for the Heat. As a young team, they are prone to mistakes, but they need to keep the Heat on their toes in order to learn for the future.

Miami Heat

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    Best-Case Scenario: An NBA title

    Do I even need to write this part? We have all expected the Heat to win a title all season, and those expectations haven't changed. Even the absence of Chris Bosh doesn't excuse the Heat from the expectations.

    Worst Case Scenario: Losing a close series to Indiana

    Even though the Miami Heat have lost Chris Bosh, losing this series to Indiana close would kill the confidence of the Heat. Many already question their ability to perform (read: LeBron's ability to perform) in clutch moments and losing this series would destroy their credibility. Unfortunately for Miami fans, the Heat haven't looked like the same team without Bosh in the lineup.