NBA Playoffs Bold Predictions: Seeding the Eastern Conference

Raul HingoraniCorrespondent IIJanuary 7, 2012

NBA Playoffs Bold Predictions: Seeding the Eastern Conference

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    With the NBA season under way, all the teams are settling in. With several games already played, quite a few teams have proven how well they might do in the season.

    The Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder had a strong start, proving that they are a few of the teams to look out for this season.

    Other teams, such as the Washington Wizards (0-6 as of their loss against the Magic) or the New Jersey Nets (1-6 as of their loss to the Celtics), haven't had the ideal start to the season.

    With certain rankings being established, players and fans can start looking forward to the playoffs in advance. I will be seeding the Eastern Conference of the playoffs based upon how the season looks so far, and I'll be predicting how far each team will go in the postseason. 

No. 8 Seed: Philadelphia 76ers

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    Last season the Philadelphia 76ers managed to do surprisingly well, clinching the seventh seed in the playoffs. They would take on the Heat in the first round. It seemed pretty clear who would advance to the next round, the Heat, but the 76ers didn't exit without a fight.

    Players such as Andre Iguodola, Elton Brand, Jru Holiday, Evan Turner and Louis Williams were clutch and made shots at the right time. It just wasn't enough to go far. With a new season ahead, the 76ers can look to enter the playoffs once more.

    Andre Iguodala is an all-around player. He can shoot occasionally and he can drive effectively, which is basically the ideal package.

    Elton Brand is the low post kind of guy that a team could want in the NBA. His mid-range jumper makes him effective. Jru Holiday is an overall great point guard. He can make some clutch shots, drive and score, or make the assist. 

    With this team and playoff experience from last season, the 76ers can expect to possibly reach the playoffs again this season. 

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    1st round: They don't have enough firepower to propel themselves further.

    Seed from last season: 7

No. 7 Seed: New York Knicks

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    Despite the starpower of this team, the Knicks haven't been able to start the season the way they would have liked. 

    The Knicks opened their season with a narrow victory over the Boston Celtics (106-104). But since then, things have gone haywire.

    They have featured in losses against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Toronto Raptors and the Charlotte Bobcats. They managed to pull out a victory against the Sacramento Kings.

    Carmelo Anthony is going to be a big factor in the Knicks' turn around. He is a clinical scorer. He drives, shoots, gets fouled and he can make some good passes. He is one of the most talented scorers in the league, and it is no surprise that he averages around 28 points per game (as of their loss to the Bobcats). He makes the most unbelievable shots and he is an amazing player. 

    Another player who has played well so far is Amare Stoudemire. He can score jumpers from around the court, may it be a three or a mid range. He is also a good defensive player and will be a huge factor in this team's success.

    The Knicks also acquired a player who is known for his defensive presence, Tyson Chandler. He has been effective on offense and defense for the Knicks so far. Much can be expected from the new addition.

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    1st round: Their team won't be able to face teams like the Celtics, Heat or Bulls.

    Seed from last season: 6

No. 6 Seed: Orlando Magic

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    The Orlando Magic had a good start to the season. Their performance has been consistent. They win quite a few games, but losses still manage to crop up into the team's record. 

    Unfortunately, they lost their season opener to the OKC Thunder, 97-89. But they managed to get some convincing wins to turn themselves around, such as victories over the Houston Rockets, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards.

    The Magic have great players such as Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu.

    Each of these players puts in their own unique effort; one player might shoot well for the team or one might rebound well. Either way, it is because of this teamwork that the Orlando Magic has had a strong start to the season.

    In the end, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Orlando Magic make the playoffs.

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    1st round: They don't have enough firepower to propel themselves further.

    Seed from last season: 4

No. 5 Seed: Indiana Pacers

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    Last season, the Indiana Pacers managed to clinch an eighth-seed spot in the playoffs. They took on the Bulls in the first round. Despite losing the series 4-1, they played surprisingly well. Players like Darren Collison, Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert are all key in the good performances of this team.

    The Pacers had a pretty good start to the season (4-2 as of a loss to the Miami Heat). Danny Granger has been averaging close to 15 points per game as of their loss to the Heat. It isn't a great scoring number, but it is decent. With other players putting in their fair share of points, it doesn't really matter.

    Two players the Pacers have acquired, George Hill and David West, are going to be important players in this season.

    George Hill has already had some playoff experience with the San Antonio Spurs, so he will be a good addition to this team.

    David West came from the New Orleans Hornets. He originally had scoring numbers close to 19 points per game, but that number has dropped. Even though his scoring numbers aren't great, he will just need to provide some defensive oomph to even out his performance.

    With this, Indiana should be able to clinch a playoff spot.

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    1st round: They are still finding their way, and they need more playoff experience to do better.

    Seed from last season: 8

No. 4 Seed: Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks are one of the older teams in the league. Despite that, they haven't been playing badly. 

    They had some nice victories so far this season against the Miami Heat, the New Jersey Nets twice, and the Washington Wizards.

    But they have also had their fair share of losses. They lost to the Heat in triple overtime, against the Bulls, and the Houston Rockets.

    Even though their start hasn't been great, I see them recovering to earn a spot in the playoffs. With players like Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith, a recovery is possible.

    Joe Johnson is an all-around good player. He can shoot and sometimes he gets in the low post; basically he is a scorer of all kinds. Al Horford is a big man, not a great post player, but he can make shots and block them.

    When the Hawks took on the Heat at home, Ivan Johnson was sensational. His offensive rebounding was key in Atlanta scoring. His defense was too much for Chris Bosh, pestering Bosh's performance. 

    One player who has been clutch in the fourth quarter is the new acquisition, Tracy McGrady. He knocks down shots with ease; he might not have the same driving skills as he once did, but he is still one of Atlanta's key players.

    It is without much doubt that Atlanta will clinch a playoff spot.

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    Conference Semis

    Seed from last season: 5

No. 3 Seed: Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics have not had the best of starts. Right now (as of victory over New Jersey), the Celtics are 4-3. That does not seem like a record worthy of the Celtics.

    One of the reasons Boston is in this situation is because they are lacking at the center position. Their starting center is Jermaine O'Neal. He is not very good. He can score the occasional mid-range jumper, but he just doesn't have the same defensive skills as their former center Kendrick Perkins, who now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    Other than their center position, this team is quite good.

    In the absence of their primary scorer Paul Pierce, Rondo has been scoring in good amounts at point. Ray Allen is shooting great; he doesn't seem to have worsened since last year. He is still a great three-point shooter.

    Paul Pierce has been playing in recent games and seems to be performing just fine. With time, he will recover his usual form. Last but not least, Kevin Garnett is also playing well. 

    One acquisition who has aided the Celtics immensely is Brandon Bass. His offensive game is great; he scores on mid-range jumpers and he scores off offensive rebounds. Ultimately, he is key to the Celtics winning.

    The Celtics also have some rookies on the team, such as Dooling, who have loads of potential as professional players. 

    Despite a rough start, I foresee the Celtics earning a spot in the playoffs at the third seed.

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    Conference Semis: Their lineup isn't strong enough to face those of the Heat or the Bulls.

    Seed from last season: 3

No. 2 Seed: Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls are another team that started off their season with style.

    They opened the season with a narrow victory over the Los Angeles Lakers (88-87), in which Derrick Rose certainly proved his worth by scoring the winning basket. 

    Derrick Rose has already proven how key he will be for this team. He has been a stellar player by scoring on the most amazing drives. Sometimes he scores, sometimes he kicks it back out for the shot. Either way, he is MVP quality.

    But he isn't the only player who can provide an offensive edge. 

    One of the Bulls' acquisitions was Richard Hamilton. He can provide a scoring boost for this team because otherwise, the main scorer is Derrick Rose. Acquiring Richard Hamilton is positive for the Chicago Bulls.

    Scoring is not the only important part of basketball. Players such as Joachim Noah and Keith Bogans come in handy for the Bulls because they provide an edge on the defensive end of the court, and provide rebounding. 

    Apart from a loss to the Golden State Warriors, so far the Bulls are in good shape. 

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    Conference Finals

    Seed from last season: 1

No. 1 Seed: Miami Heat

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    It was clear that Miami would be one of the more successful teams this season.

    They opened their season with a victory over defending NBA champions, the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat proved their dominance by maintaining a 35 point lead at one point in the game. 

    In their past few games, except for a loss against the Atlanta Hawks, the Heat have dominated. They hosted the Charlotte Bobcats on New Year's Day and blew them out of South Beach with a 129-90 victory. On January 4, when the Heat faced the Indiana Pacers, the Heat crushed the Pacers 118-83.

    They obviously weren't the best teams, but winning by such a large margin is encouraging.

    LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been sensational in the first games of the season. James has been scoring like a monster along with Wade. Chris Bosh has also been playing like a beast.

    Not to be forgotten, Bosh scored the tying three pointer in Atlanta that sent the game into overtime. If the big three continue to play the way they are right now, they will be unstoppable. 

    Not only that, but their rookie, Norris Cole, has also been phenomenal so far this season. He had a great game against the Celtics in which he scored 20 points (14 of which were in the fourth quarter). We can only look forward to much more from this rookie. He will be a key player in the Heat's season. 

    If the Heat's season continues this way, they can see a bright future ahead.

    Prediction of the final playoff round reached:

    NBA Finals

    Seed from last season: 2


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