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Predicting the Playoffs and Crowning the Champion for the 2011-2012 NBA Season

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Predicting the Playoffs and Crowning the Champion for the 2011-2012 NBA Season
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s never too early to predict this season’s winners and losers. Because of the storm of new variables resulting from the shortened 66-game season, I’ve decided to forgo the regular season and head straight into my postseason playoff series projections. 

The Western Conference has six no-brainers with the Thunder, Mavericks, Lakers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Spurs. The only thing they’ll be fighting for is positioning. 

The Blazers should hold down the seventh seed, but that’s only if they can stay healthy—an issue they’ve had for the past three-plus years. 

The eighth seed is completely up for grabs. A few competitors are the Rockets, Suns and Warriors. Whoever does sneak in there should be prepared for a first-round sweep in Oklahoma City. 

The Eastern Conference has arguably the two best teams in the league this season with the Heat and Bulls. Barring any unforeseen issues or injuries, they will hold down the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively. 

The Knicks are the third-best team in the East on paper, but they’ll have to put it all together on the hardwood and commit more effort on the defensive end to lock down the No. 3 spot. 

The Celtics, 76ers, Pacers, Magic and Hawks will round out the East. Dwight Howard's conflicting desires could either result in a big shakeup in the East, or another average season for the Magic

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