Blogtable: A Sliding Playoff-Bound Team

The Bucks' Monta Eliis, by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Bucks’ Monta Eliis, by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Week 17: Playoff-bound team in trouble | Who can stop the Heat? | Do you want Derrick Rose back at 80%?

Which playoff-bound team do you see slipping after the break?

Steve Aschburner: I’m still mourning Memphis for two trades that weren’t driven by the pursuit of a championship this spring, which is what the Grizzlies were poised to do. But I’m even more alarmed by the Golden State Warriors, who returned from the break the way they went into it: losing. With their bad start and poor finish at Utah Tuesday, the Warriors have dropped six in a row and are 8-13 over the past seven weeks. They have sputtered while trying to acclimate to center Andrew Bogut‘s participation, the defense has been porous and, after the setback in Salt Lake City, forward David Lee cited a drip-drip-drip of small mistakes adding up to a big problem. Golden State played just well enough through the first two months to demand that it be taken seriously — so seeking its level now comes as a legit disappointment. It could have finished eighth — or (gulp) ninth — without getting folks’ hopes up.

Fran Blinebury: Despite their 8-1 start in life without Rajon Rondo, I think it’s going to be difficult for the Celtics aging pair of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to handle the added burden, so they could drop as far as the No. 8 spot in the East.  The Celtics are just fortunate that, barring a stunning and miraculous return by Andrew Bynum in Philly, there’s nobody below that can knock them out of the playoffs.

Jeff Caplan: The Bucks started their swoon pre-All-Star break and they might just slip right out of the playoffs if Philadelphia can ever get hot — or if Toronto can stay hot. However, the Bucks aren’t my choice. Hellooooo Atlanta. We’ll see by Thursday if Josh Smith has a new home. Even if he stays, I still say, look out below. The Hawks have the misfortune of opening the post-All-Star break season with eight road games within a brutal 12-game stretch that starts at home Wednesday against the Heat and ends March 12 at the Heat. The stretch includes a season-long six-game trip that starts on the second night of back-to-back at Milwaukee (Saturday) and includes a stop at Utah followed by a back-to-back at the Los  Angeles Lakers and at mile-high Denver. The dirty dozen ends with this challenging three-pack: a back-to-back at Boston and home against Brooklyn, then three nights later at Miami. The Hawks are 29-22. Let’s see where they are in 20 days.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Ask me again Thursday afternoon. For now, based on the rosters of the moment, the Grizzlies will take a dip. Not all the way out of the playoff pack, but enough of a slip in a post-Rudy Gay world. Taking a three-game winning streak into the All-Star break was a nice bit of momentum building. The three were against the Kings, the Timberwolves and the slumping Warriors, though.

John Schuhmann: Milwaukee is a prime candidate. The Bucks have a tough remaining schedule that includes nine back-to-backs (the first of which they’re in the middle of). And if you look at point differential, their record is a little inflated in the first place. Of course, if they manage to trade Monta Ellis, they would become a better team (addition by subtraction) and maybe make up for the tough schedule. Also, if the Bucks do slip, I’m not sure there’s another Eastern Conference team with the chops to take their place in the playoff picture. If you’re looking for a higher seed that could slip, I’ll go with Brooklyn, who has six more road games than home games remaining and a league-high 10 post-break back-to-backs.

Sekou SmithDepending on what transpires between now and 3 p.m. Thursday, I could see the Atlanta Hawks struggling to the finish line if they do indeed trade Josh Smith. I don’t see a Celtics-like surge coming from the Hawks if they lose their best player (to trade this time and not to injury, as Boston did with Rajon Rondo). The Hawks already have fragile chemistry and the fact that 85 percent of the roster (and the coaching staff) will be finishing up their contracts at the end of this season doesn’t bode well for some miraculous finish. If you’re going into rebuild mode this summer, and everyone in the locker room knows it, where is the incentive to claw your way to the finish?


  1. Karlo Garcia says:

    Atlanta,depending if Josh Smith is traded or not.

  2. RAPTORS2013 says:

    G.DRAGON…. No way on Cousins lol, some how some way the Spurs or Bulls need to trade for him because those are the only 2 teams with coaches and veterans that would be able to show that kid what the deal is and turn him into a winner, maybe Denver too. But not the Raps, this team has such good chemistry and not enough discipline to deal with a head case like Cousins, he needs structure and a respected coach to teach him the way.

  3. RAPTORS2013 says:

    Sorry 416, but we do not need to be competitive to make the 8th spot in the East lol. If we won half the games we blew with a late 4th quarter lead we would be a playoff team as of today, with Rudy Gay we are obviously a team with an above .500 record, so you put those things together with the fact we are only 5 games back I say I like our chances after starting off 4-19. Also don’t think the bulls are offering Boozer because they really want Bargs lol, they just really don’t want Boozers contract anymore. He is having a great year but once he is not the best scoring option anymore his numbers will plummet like they have his whole time in Chicago. Also, if guys like alan anderson want to get upset about mins LOL go ahead, I’d much rather let Ross grow at SG and give Fields mins at SF when they go small and have Rudy at PF. Now if we could get Josh Smith to agree long term, I say grab him for Bargs and Fields or Anderson. Smith would match great with Amir in the paint on both ends and he would have no pressure of being the go to guy, plus no team would be able to double team the raptors.

  4. Clippssss says:

    I think the Raptors are one piece away to be a playoff team.

  5. RAPTORS2013 says:

    I don’t know who is gonna fall off, but I do know that the Raptors will be in the playoffs this year!!! They may be out the first round, but they are never out of a game and are gonna shock some people the second half of the season!

    • G.Dragon says:

      Bargniani for Demarcus Cousins, let’s goo!

    • 416 says:

      As much as I love the raps they are not going to make the playoff this year. This got a better roster now but I got a feeling they are still one piece away from being competitive with good teams.
      A Carlos for Barg is certainly a good way to make this happen or even better if Josh Smith is coming to T.O.
      Clog at the wings isn’t a problem now but it’ll escalate in the future due to minutes.
      Go RAPS!