I must include a small paragraph to say how good it is to be back. What, with me heading off into the bright old world of university this past September, I obviously haven't had much time for writing on here. Well, its Easter break, and here I am. I had a lot of good readers last year, I hope I can draw them and more back. As always, please give a comment, there's nothing better than a good discussion on the game.
I am Joe Buckley, this is Hoops4life, let's get on with the basketball.
A playoff race that is tighter than it looks.
If you look at the conference standings over the past few weeks, it may be fairly surprising— the standings don't actually change all that much.
Aside from the seven/eight seeds in the East and the six/seven/eight seeds in the West, they've almost been set in stone.
No major changes have taken place and some teams have looked like first round playoff match-ups for weeks.
If you look at the column entitled GB, (or Games Behind,) almost the entire playoff picture could change in just a couple of days' worth of games.
However, before we take a look at those teams involved in the pick n' mix of the NBA, lets take note of the teams that aren't moving.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Lakers have proven themselves to be human over the last few weeks, and the Cavs do still have many things left to prove, but either of them leaving their respective top seeds is unimaginable.
No one knows what is coming playoff time, but these two teams will still be at the top of their conferences.
Lets give these teams no more thought.
In all fairness, we can almost put the Orlando Magic into that 'locked' section, where they are almost certain to remain in the second seed.
But they are only four games away from Boston and Atlanta and I'm not completely convinced.
More interestingly, the Celtics and Hawks are on identical records at the moment of 47-16,with Boston occupying third.
Boston is a testament to how up-and-down this final month can be.
They looked to be flailing, as if age had completely caught up with them. While they still have major chinks in their green armor, they have righted themselves somewhat, going seven-three over their last ten.
The Hawks have also gone seven-three though, and will not relinquish the newfound taste of a Third Seed easily.
They don't want to be in the Cavs bracket and can easily recapture it, if their defense is able to get back on the same page and the stories surrounding Joe Johnson can stop being a distraction.
After these four teams, there is a huge gap.
The top four are staying in the top four, as their is a big six and a half game drop down to the fifth seed, where the Milwaukee Bucks, supringly stand.
A game below the Bucks is Dwyane Wade and the Heat, and a game below them is the Charlotte Bobcats, the underdogs of the year.
This is going to be a tough race between the three as there is barely anything that can separate them.
The Bobcats and Heat both had small losing streaks recently, before going on their respective three and five game winning streaks.
The Bobcats and Bucks play on April 2nd, a big game for these seedings and the Heat's last three games are the Knicks, Sixers and Nets.
This could be a big chance to jump ahead to the possiblyno. five seed.
The Bulls looked like they're playoff hopes were dashed and the Raptors looked like they might be clicking. Apparently, I was wrong on both accounts.
The Raptors are the eighth seed right now, just three games behind Charlotte, and just half a game ahead of the Bulls.
It seems like the Raptors are falling apart.
Hedo Turkoglu, their biggest signing of the off-season, was benched for an entire game by his coach.
They are on a three game losing streak and have played 3-7 ball over their last 10 games.
If they miss the playoffs, Chris Bosh is not going to be pleased.
The Bulls may save themselves some dignity by creeping into the eighth seed.
And now, it gets even tighter.
The ultimate playoff race is always in the Western Conference. Remember 2007, when 50 wins didn't get you in?
Things are no different this time.
Denver had occupied the second seed nearly the whole year but that is no longer the case.
Courtesy of their 13 game winning streak and going six-four over the last 10 games, the Mavs now hold the best spot anyone not in purple and gold can hope for.
Utah, after an uninspiring start to the year, have come on strong, and now have an identical record to the third place Nuggets.
Ask yourself, who is the fifth seed?
The Phoenix Suns, in their least talked about year since Steve Nash arrived, are only one game behind Dallas and the second seed.
One game is all that separates four teams, and the no. two through five seeds.
This is a tighter race than most think.
The Suns could jump up into the second seed in the blink of an eye, and they are surging to do so.
They currently have the highest winning streak in the league at seven.
Denver has shown major cracks lately by losing big games.
Dallas has wobbled slightly since their streak was halted.
And yet here it gets even more crazy. Just two and a half games behind the Suns are the Spurs, the Thunder., the Blazers.
The Spurs and Thunder have identical records, with the Blazers on one more win but also one more loss.
From the last 10 games, the Thunder are the worst at six-four, they are still only two and a half games behind fifth.
The Spurs are constants, despite their struggles.
Manu is brilliant, and the Spurs are riding on it.
The Thunder have been amazing.
Kevin Durant is already better than many thought he'd ever be, and their cast of players with Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, James Harden and a collection of others, are one of my favorites in the league.
The Blazers on the other hand, have been the most cursed team this year, and they're still well within the fifth/sixth seed.
This is going to a tight month folks.
With most teams having less than 10 games to go, every single one counts for those in the playoff pictures.
I have a feeling that seed positioning is going to go down to the very last day.