Although the 2012-13 NBA regular season is 99 percent over, there's still a lot that must be determined from now until Wednesday night before we will know the eight first-round playoff matchups this year.
While most of the top seeds have been clinched, the No. 8 seed out West is still up for grabs as well as seeding in both conferences as teams look to improve their playoff position. Soon enough, though, the postseason picture will be complete.
With the playoffs set to tip off this coming weekend, we'll take a closer look at the brackets and highlight three teams flying under the radar that are capable of making deep postseason runs in 2013.
Unless the Utah Jazz crash the playoff party in the Western Conference this spring, the Boston Celtics will sport the worst road record of any of the 16 playoff teams in 2013.
The C's have been lackluster away from Beantown this year to say the least, but their ability to lock in on the defensive end makes them a championship contender nonetheless. Boston ranks ninth in the league in scoring defense, seventh in opponent field-goal percentage and second in opponent three-point percentage.
No, the Celtics aren't an explosive offensive team, but they don't need to reinvent the wheel this postseason in order to be successful and make a surprise return to the Eastern Conference finals. So long as the Celtics receive consistent contributions from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the offensive end, their exceptional team defense will give them added room for error.
The Denver Nuggets possess a few things very few teams in the NBA have, one of them being young legs; Andre Miller is the only player on Denver's roster over age 30.
After a long, grueling 82-game regular season, experienced youth can be huge come playoff time. While Denver will be short-handed this postseason with Danilo Gallinari set to miss the rest of the season, the Nuggets are lethal on the offensive end, especially on the break where their athleticism shines.
The Nuggets are averaging 106 points per game this season and feature five players, not including Gallinari, who are averaging double figures in scoring this year.
Plus, Denver is nearly impossible to beat at home inside the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets are an NBA-best 37-3 at home this season, which is dangerous for the rest of the Western Conference, considering they'll likely enter the playoffs with home-court advantage in the first round as a No. 3 seed out West.
In addition to boasting the best scoring defense in the NBA this season, the Memphis Grizzlies seem to play well wherever they go.
Memphis has won over 30 games at home this season, but has also won 24 road games, second only to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference this year. Considering the fact that this team plays lights-out defense and travels well, a deep run looks to be in its future.
The Grizzlies rank inside the top three in both opponent field-goal percentage and three-point percentage this season, which bodes well for Zach Randolph and company come playoff time. Randolph and fellow frontcourt mate Marc Gasol are both tremendous on the interior and should present matchup problems for whichever team(s) they face this postseason.
This is also a squad with plenty of playoff experience to draw from. Memphis nearly crashed the Western Conference finals in 2011 and pushed the Los Angeles Clippers to seven games a year ago.
2013 NBA Playoffs Bracket (as of April 15, 2013)
No. 1 Miami Heat
No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks
No. 4 Brooklyn Nets
No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
No. 2 New York Knicks
No. 7 Boston Celtics
No. 3 Indiana Pacers
No. 6 Chicago Bulls
No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder
No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers
No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
No. 2 San Antonio Spurs
No. 7 Houston Rockets
No. 3 Denver Nuggets
No. 6 Golden State Warriors
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