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Today, we will be talking about the NBA Playoffs

By Brian Muhana | Sports Columnist
On April 25, 2012

April is coming to a close, which can mean only one thing... NBA Playoff Basketball

A few short weeks from now, the landscape of the NBA will narrow, and the best eight teams from the east, and the best eight teams from the west will battle it out for NBA supremacy once again. With the season shortened because of the lockout, teams found themselves playing a harsh 66 - game schedule filled with back to back to back games and long grueling road trips that the players would not normally see in a regular season. But one thing that will not be different in the 2011-12 season is the Playoffs.

The Heat and Bulls are fighting for the top spot in the east once again, and they are the favorites to meet in the eastern conference finals just like last year. The Spurs are once again at the top of the west at the right time with Oklahoma City nipping at their heels only half a game behind in the standings. Those do not surprise anyone, no, it is the rest of the field that has everybody's attention.

Who would have thought that the Indiana Pacers would be right behind the Bulls and Heat in the east at third? Indiana is one of only six teams in the entire NBA to win more than 40 games this season and have locked up a first round playoff match up against the Hawks or Magic. Speaking of surprises, what about Portland? With such high expectations, most experts believed this year was prime for Portland to finally go somewhere in the Playoffs. But with two games left in the season, the Blazers are eight games below 500 at 28-36, and plan on watching the playoffs from their homes in Portland.

The middle-of-the-pack teams in this year's playoffs are all strong, probably the strongest they have been in years. With the fourth through eighth seeds in the east separated by only three and a half games, it might be the most competitive playoffs we have seen in recent seasons.

The west is the same way; the third through fifth seeds are separated by a measly one game, and the sixth through eighth seeds apart by two and a half. It certainly looks to be an entertaining period for basketball fans.

One of the more interesting points of this year's playoffs is the changing of the guard in the west. The defending champion Dallas Mavericks are the seventh seed and their playoff capability is in doubt.

San Antonio holds the top spot at the moment for the entirety of the season, but the Oklahoma City Thunder made their case game, in and game out, of why they should be recognized as the best team in the west. With such a young, talented line-up, featuring MVP candidate Kevin Durant, it figures to be a tough match up for anybody that runs into them.

Once the regular season ends and the playoffs begin, the intensity will pick up, as it always does. Teams that figure to be easy outs will surprise people (i.e. the Memphis Grizzlies beating the Spurs in the first round last year despite being an eight seed). This is the time of year that, if you are a fan of entertaining basketball, your mouth begins to water. It is an appetite that can only be suppressed once the playoffs are over and a champion has been crowned.


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