Its easier to eliminate many teams in the West and easier to see who is qualifying in the East.
Cleveland is all so very likely to stay on top until they all forget to play ball. they have been shooting well from range, and then they have LeBron. Shaq's injury has forced them to call back Z from the Wizards... Hickson isn't bad filling in for the Big Witness though.
Magic seems to have gotten into the grove with players like Barnes, Jason, Pietrus finally contributing to the firepower led by Howard, Vince Carter and Lewis.
Celtics have been less than impressive this season, given their capabilities, and the recent additions of Nate and Mason (in addition to that of 'Sheed after last season). But, even if they enjoy the home advantage on paper, I don't see that helping them in any way. They've lost more home games this season than the last two regular seasons combined!
Taking advantage of this stuation are the Hawks, which has looked very much improved over last season. Joe Johnson, Crawford, Horford, Smith filling in big numbers. But the problem is, their two biggest stars, Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby are now nursing injuries. Its upto the rest of the team to maintain the balance of the team's position on the charts.
Bucks and Bobcats have become the 'chasers' in the East. Both have been very good at home court and have constantly been a threat to the top four. Bobcats, for instance, won the regular season series over Cavs 3-1. Miami, Bobcats, Raptors and Bulls will have to fight for the last three spots in the East for the playoffs.
With around fourteen fames to go, CLE and ORL have clinched playoff births, while the pathetic Nets ( Celtics won't agree though :-P ) have been shown the doors for this season.
Right on top of the table are the Lakers, who started good with most games played on home court. the 8 game road trip in January dented their speed. Their first ever 3-game losing streak, since aquiring Pau over two years ago, was handed to them by ORL, CHA and MIA in early March. This has now created doubts over the capabilities of the Lakers in crunch matches. But, they have revived since then, and Ron Artest, the only addition since last season (at the expense of Ariza) has doubled up his defensive game.
Nuggets and Mavs are a close 2nd and 3rd, with both the teams showing form and strength time and again, only to be humbled soon. Mavs' addition of Butler and Haywood seemed to have set their pace right with a huge 13 game streak (mostly over weak opponents). 13 was unlucky though... Nuggets have been tough to beat at their home court.
Jazz have shown the urgency to make it to the playoffs with a spree of victories, like in last season... Chips are down a bit of late though with the Jazz.
Now, the most improved team of the year, to me, are the OKC Thunders. Kevin Durant is giving LeBron a run for his money for the race to the MVP, though the humble kid will say LeBron or Dirk or Melo has a better go at it, the second best scorer in the league really carries the hopes of a new franchise city. ft. - russel Westbrook and Thabo Safalosha, this is one exciting team to watch in their 'debut' postseason (hopefully).
Suns, after somehow hanging on to Amare' Stoudemire, Suns are wanting to show a better playoff performance this time around. Which position they will end up at? Whom will they meet? Some questions will be answered only after all games are exhausted!
Spurs have a minute advantage over the Blazers at the seventh spot, but now face a HUGE tast over the next 7 games, where they take on some of the season's best sides at both home and road, involving two pairs of back-to-back games.
The real warriors of the season, the Blazers, battling through uncountable players gettinig injured, the biggest of all, Oden...things were looking gloomy for them. But the spirit shown by them and the ability of the last one from the Fab-Five dynasty, Juwan Howard to start as Center at times, the side has climber mountains to reach wherever they are now. Camby has now come in to boost the side's Playoff chances. If they face the Lakers, I bet, that will be SOME series!
Grizzlies, Rockets and Hornets are quite some distance away from a playoff berth, which is possible, on paper. All other sides in the West will not qualify to playoffs this season.
In a month's time, the reglar season would've ended and the playoff charts will be out...
What a season!