Wednesday marked the final day of the 2013-14 NBA regular season, meaning playoff seeding and lottery odds were sorted out as the final standings were released.
Here is a look at those standings for both the Eastern and Western Conference:
|1||San Antonio Spurs||62-20|
|2||Oklahoma City Thunder||59-23|
|3||Los Angeles Clippers||57-25|
|5||Portland Trail Blazers||54-28|
|6||Golden State Warriors||51-31|
|12||New Orleans Pelicans||34-48|
|14||Los Angeles Lakers||27-55|
|9||New York Knicks||37-45|
Of more importance than the final records, though, is the positioning in the NBA playoffs. The NBA certainly had that in mind when it let fans know what the first-round bracket looks like for the postseason:
Here is a glance at some of the key dates to keep in mind throughout the playoffs:
- April 19: 2014 NBA playoffs begin
- May 5: conference semifinals begin (possible move up to May 3 or 4)
- May 20: conference finals begin (possible move up to May 18 or 19)
- June 5: The NBA Finals begin
Another area of interest for a certain sector of fans as we head into the postseason is the overall odds to win the championship. Vegas Insider gave title odds to all 16 teams in the playoffs, as of Wednesday, April 16:
|San Antonio Spurs||3-1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||19-5|
|Los Angeles Clippers||10-1|
|Portland Trail Blazers||50-1|
|Golden State Warriors||60-1|
Now that we know what the odds, first-round bracket and final regular-season standings look like, let’s dig into a couple of storylines to watch in the first few games of the NBA playoffs.
Will Heavy Doses of Dwyane Wade be Necessary Against the Charlotte Bobcats?
Dwyane Wade has played off and on all season long, which makes LeBron James’ production all the more impressive considering how much of an offensive burden he has carried.
It will be intriguing to watch how often the Miami Heat use Wade in the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats. The Heat knocked off Charlotte in all four regular-season contests this year and should theoretically be able to handle the Bobcats in a best-of-seven series without heavy minutes from the star shooting guard.
It would probably be in the team’s best interest to rest his knees before potential showdowns with the likes of the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls or Brooklyn Nets in later rounds. All three of those teams bring a physical style of play to the court, and a postseason series against any of them will be grueling.
Can the Miami Heat get past Charlotte without Wade?
What’s more, James has already proven he can dominate the Bobcats.
He scored a career-high 61 points against them earlier in the year and was thankful afterward in his postgame interview in comments that come via Royce Young of CBS Sports:
"The man above has given me some unbelievable abilities to play this game of basketball. I try to take advantage of it each and every night."
James will need much more help from his sidekick in the latter rounds than this one.
Offensive Firepower Aplenty
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the first round in the Western Conference is the one between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State brings the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and even Harrison Barnes to the table, while the Clippers counter with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan. That is plenty of offensive firepower on both sides.
In fact, the Clippers rank first in the league in points per game, but it was the Warriors who finished in the top 10 in both points scored and allowed per game.
There is so much potential offense in this series, that it might actually come down to which better-than-advertised defense can answer the bell over the course of seven games.
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