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Separating the Contenders from Pretenders in the NBA Playoff Race

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Separating the Contenders from Pretenders in the NBA Playoff Race
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Paul's Clippers and Tony Parker's Spurs could meet in the playoffs.

March is the point in the NBA season when the championship contenders separate themselves from the pretenders.

There are several factors to consider when evaluating which teams have a legitimate shot at winning a title. They must possess the right mix of youth and experience, excellent coaching and solid chemistry.

Championship rosters are usually deep and contain at least one superstar. The game tends to slow down in the playoffs, so style of play is important. It is typically a good sign if a team plays its best basketball heading into the postseason, and health is always a major concern.

It is also essential to consider teams' paths to the NBA Finals. What is the strength of their conference? How do they match up against specific teams? Will they have home-court advantage? And perhaps most importantly, do the Miami Heat stand in their way?

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