NBA Playoffs 2012: Eliminated Teams Who Won't Be Back Next Season
As we get closer to the NBA Finals, the 2012 NBA Playoffs have dwindled to four teams. Of the 12 teams that have been sent home so far, a few are going to have a very difficult time making it back into the playoffs in 2013.
The natural progression of a growing team is to struggle to make the postseason and then continue advancing farther each year until it finally gets over the hump and wins an NBA title. Unfortunately, the teams highlighted in this slideshow won't get that opportunity to grow in the postseason next year.
Instead, they'll be replaced by younger, up-and-coming squads that are hungrier than they were this year. Here are the eliminated playoff teams that won't be back.
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The Utah Jazz proved to be a tough young team this year by pushing its way into the playoffs and even making it close against the San Antonio Spurs at times during the first round. However, that youth and toughness won't be enough to keep them in the playoff equation.
The Devin Harris experience in Utah has failed, and the team needs a point guard. Harris led the team in assists with just 3.8, which is absolutely unacceptable. While this wasn't a problem for the team as a whole (11th in the NBA in assists per game), it became a problem when the team needed big buckets late in critical games.
With Minnesota, Phoenix and Houston all nipping at its heels, Utah won't be able to stay in the playoffs next year, mainly due to youth and a lack of consistent production at the point.
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The Denver Nuggets have been one of the most balanced and offensively efficient teams in the league since Carmelo Anthony left for the "greener" pastures of New York. However, they lack a true superstar to go to in crunch time and that is a problem.
Ty Lawson is a very good player, but he isn't a superstar. The Nuggets have no one to get them a basket when their impressive offense has slowed and the opponent is locking down on defense. That will be a problem next year during late-season playoff clinching games in an ultra-competitive Western Conference.
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Another team that lacks a true go-to scorer, the Philadelphia 76ers really lucked out in the playoffs this year by having both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls go out with injuries. Moving on to the second round and taking a much older and slower Boston Celtics team overshadowed the fact that this team limped into the postseason.
After starting off the season on a 15-6 tear by using their younger legs to take advantage of an out-of-shape NBA, the Sixers nearly fell out of the playoffs, going 20-25 for the rest of the season and almost losing out on a postseason appearance.
That won't cut it next season because young teams like Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland will get better. Philadelphia will miss the playoffs next season.
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A superstar that is likely to be traded, a new GM, a new coach and a bunch of remaining pieces that were built around the likely-departed superstar is a mix that does not equal the playoffs.
Dwight Howard will likely leave the Orlando Magic in a trade, either in the offseason or before the trade deadline. Considering who the Magic have other than Howard and the fact that they'll have a new head coach and a new GM, they won't make it back to the postseason.