The Elusive Number Eight Seed… in the East
March 12, 2009 by AlexV
With about 18 or so games to go for each NBA team, the playoff races begin to tighten. By now, any true NBA enthusiast should know the situation in the Western Conference and how seeds eight through two are neck and neck. They should also know that the Phoenix Suns are in poor shape in the ninth spot being five and a half games behind the currently eighth seeded Dallas Mavericks. However, over in the Eastern Conference the race for eight is on. With Chicago, New Jersey, Charlotte, Indiana, Milwaukee, and New York no more than two games apart from one another, that battle is still very interesting.
The New York Knicks have improved mightily from last season with the run-and-gun style that has been infused by new head coach Mike D’Antoni. However, they have a run-and-gun with a bevy of role player caliber ballers. It’s not like they’re the superstar-filled Suns of years past that D’Antoni had before. So, although the Knicks are a much improved team, they shouldn’t be making the playoffs any way.
The Charlotte Bobcats were already making positive strides prior to the trade that brought them Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa at mid-season. Now, they have improved further, but they are still highly inexperienced and will require more time and at least one All-Star player to get in.
The Pacers on the other hand have their All-Star caliber player in Danny Granger, but he has been hurt. They too are like the Knicks and tend to run, but once again, too many role player type people on their team. That’s no good.
New Jersey’s got All-Star Devin Harris, and former superstar, but more than capable Vince Carter. But they have too many woes at home and they can’t be expected to make a run just because they are decent on the road. Decent on the road is great, where they have a 14-17 record, but a non-winning 14-19 home record just won’t do it.
The Milwaukee Bucks currently hold the eight spot, but they still have one problem… they are Michael Redd-less. They did a great job in the early going of his absence from his season-ending injury, but now his loss has started to catch up and the Bucks are just 3-7 in their last ten games.
With that being said, the eighth seed has to be given to Chicago. They have the leading candidate for rookie of the year in Derek Rose, and a great scoring pickup up at mid-season in John Salmons who is averaging 18.2 points per game this season. On top of this they have a stable of young guys with playoff experience in Kirk Hinrich, and top-scorer Ben Gordon. Their big men are also efficient; Tyrus Thomas and Luol Deng. Last, but not least, the other guy that game over from Sacramento with John Salmons… veteran and playoff-savvy Brad Miller.
The Bulls, in my mind, are already a team with a bright future, while the others that were mentioned still do not have much to build on except for some true grit. Bulls get in.