Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Rockets-Lakers Not Going to Happen

I keep reading about how the Rockets and Lakers are headed for an epic first round clash in the NBA Playoffs. Umm ... what? Yes, they are currently the #4 and #5 teams in the Western Conference Standings and yes, it seems unlikely that they will catch the Suns/Mavs/Spurs trio for a higher seed.

However, just because the NBA changed the rule that required division winners to be slotted in seeds 1-3 doesn't mean that winning the division no longer matters. The three division winners still get top four seeds, which means that the Northwest Division winner will be in the mix. If the playoffs started today it would like look this:

1) Dallas
2) Phoenix
3) San Antonio
4) Utah
5) Lakers
6) Houston
7) Minnesota
8) Denver

Not only does this list tell me that KG is a freaking hero and that the Clippers should be ashamed, it seems to obviously tell us that the Rockets and Lakers won't be playing each other this year. In fact, the only way they could meet in the first round would for the following things to happen:

- A team from the Northwest (Utah, Minnesota, or Denver) would have to get insanely hot and crack the top three in the West.

- One of the current top teams would have to tank, not just below the Northwest winner, but below both the Lakers and the Rockets.

As best I can tell, the only chance of this happening is if the Suns or Spurs tank to the #6 spot in the West, so that the standings would then look like this:

1) Dallas
2) Phoenix (or San Antonio)
3) Utah
4) Lakers
5) Rockets
6) San Antonio (or Phoenix)

Does that seem at all likely? Of course not.

The most likley scenario is that the Lakers and Rockets remains where they are now. And that would mean that not only is a first round matchup out of the question, but that they could not meet in the playoffs until the Western Conference Finals.

In other words, there is almost no chance that the Lakers and Rockets will meet in the playoffs this year, in any round, under any circumstances.

But by all means, let's keep talking about how such a series would go.


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