Chances of Each NBA Team Making the Playoffs Heading into 2014-15 Regular Season

It’s all about getting to the NBA playoffs. 

From there, anything can happen. We’ve seen No. 8 seeds take down No. 1 seeds, and if that can become a reality, then there’s at least a possibility of an overmatched squad pulling off upset after upset en route to a championship. Sixteen teams have a distinct chance at holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy after the regular season, while the other 14 are forced to watch from home. 

At this point in the year, everything revolves around the postseason, whether teams are just trying to gain entry to the all-important festivities or attempting to position themselves with a specific seed. A title is the ultimate goal, but the playoffs are the first step. 

Unfortunately, not every team has a legitimate shot to make it past the 82nd game of the 2014-15 campaign. And even those that do can be placed in a hierarchy of their own, counting down toward the one squad that’s the biggest postseason lock of all. 

These rankings are not about which team is best, and a squad that comes in one spot ahead of another isn’t necessarily better. They’re determining which franchises have the best chance to make the playoffs, looking at upside for those that aren’t projected to be a top-16 team and the floor for those that are. 

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5 underrated NBA teams that can make it to the playoffs

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Ron, the lead editor of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.Com – great source of NBA news and rumors. You can follow @NBAFantasyInfo via Twitter or via Facebook page for more updates.
The NBA is a tale of two conferences. Last season, the 48-win Phoenix Suns didn’t make the Western Conference Playoffs after a very successful season. In the Eastern Conference, the 38-44 Atlanta Hawks snatched the final playoff spot. Heading into the 2014-2015 season, there will be a team that sneaks up on the league and makes the playoffs. Here are five potential squads that could do that:

Phoenix Suns – Phoenix won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season as they won 48 games a year ago. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. With the dynamic backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe back, this team isn’t going anywhere and added a great scorer off the bench in Isaiah Thomas. Expect the Suns to compete for a spot in the playoffs this season and in t…

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Watchability: Davis’ Pelicans need the playoffs

The Pelicans need to do something this year with all their vast talent.

      
 

 

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Thaddeus Young: Kevin Love’s “26 and 12 didn’t make the playoffs”

Thaddeus Young may be the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new starting power forward, but he’s not looking to fill the void left by Kevin Love. At the team’s Media Day, Young reminded everyone that, despite putting up a gaudy 26 points and 12 rebounds per night, Love’s Wolves fell short of the postseason.
Thaddeus: I’m not trying to replace 26 and 12. 26 and 12 didn’t make it to the playoffs
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) September 29, 2014

Naturally, as Twitter removes context, Young quickly followed up on his quote with a “no shade” caveat.
No shade intended ppl. Just basically said I’m not trying 2 be @kevinlove & don’t want 2 be. Teams make it 2 playoffs, not stats. #facts
— Thad Young (@yungsmoove21) September 29, 2014

He’s right, and it’s certainly the diplomatic thing to say. Young also spoke convincingly, describing himself as a mentor to the second-year players (Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammad), as well as rookies (Andrew Wiggins), after several years as a P

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Jackson thinks Knicks will make playoffs

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson thinks his team is going to playoffs this season. “In what league,” you ask? The NBA. And no, they haven’t expanded the playoffs to 30 teams. According to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, Jackson is serious when stating his beliefs. Someone may want to monitor Jackson on a daily basis to make sure he’s not developing early stages of old man’s syndrome. In case you didn’t pay attention to the Knicks last season (don’t worry, you we not alone), they won 37 games in a weak Eastern Conference, just one game back of the eighth and final playoff spot. Not bad, even if the East is the inferior conference in the Association. That said, the team who finished behind the Knicks added guys named LeBron James and Kevin Love. Unless Jackson thought the Cavs played in the West, the Knicks have another team to worry about in their race to the postseason. And what about that roster? Props to Jackson for keeping Carmelo Anthony around to sell tickets. But third-grade level re

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Cho: Hornets capable of deeper run in playoffs (Yahoo Sports)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets’ goal this season is to make a deeper run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

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Denver Nuggets: 5 reasons why they will make the playoffs

Last year was a disaster for the Denver Nuggets. They won only 37 games and finished as the 5th worst team in the conference. The new coach meant they were playing under a new system and weren’t able to build any chemistry due to the constant injuries. All the rotating players, the new system of Brian Shaw, injuries, nothing went right for the Nuggets last year. That is about to change.
#1 Return of Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee
Danilo Gallinari did not step onto the hardwood last season. He had been one of the standout players for the Nuggets in the years before, but his knee injury forced him sit. That hurt the team immensely. Wilson Chandler could have stepped in his place and done alright, but he also missed significant playing time due to injury. McGee only played five games before going down, the only good thing about the whole injury situation with him is that Timofey Mozgov was able to step up and produce.
Now that these two players are healthy and able to play, they will be able to significantl

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Anthony Davis Under Tremendous Pressure to Make 2014-15 NBA Playoffs

Anthony Davis’ climb through the NBA superstar ranks has been quick and unparalleled, its rapidity historic enough to demand he power the New Orleans Pelicans toward postseason prominence sooner rather than later.

As in immediately.

Adequate time has been spent watching Davis in awe. Admiration of his skill set has been viewed through a vacuum, with mitigating factors—health, team performance, etc.—having little to no impact.

That all changes when the 2014-15 regular season tips off and playoff contention becomes the standard, not a pleasant surprise or happy accident.

Next season is still about Davis’ ongoing development, to be sure. At only 21 years old, he’s an unfinishedalbeit still polishedproduct. The basketball world at large doesn’t fully understand who or what he is because, well, the NBA has never seen anything or anyone like him.

“Like [LeBron] James and [Kevin] Durant, Davis is a player without direct historical reference,” Beckley Mason of The New York Times wrote ahead of Team USA’s gold-medal run at the 2014 FIBA World Cup. “He had drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon and other greats, but Davis is not the second coming of anyone.”

Offhand comparisons to James and Durant aren’t made.

Thought is put into them. Davis has debunked a number of doubts and cleared numerous obstacles—his ability to score at the NBA level, for one—before being attached to such distinguished company.

Many—myself included—already feel comfortable saying he’s a top-three player, that only Durant and James rank ahead of him.

Making these assumptions and drawing these conclusions isn’t a stretch. Davis has done enough to warrant these arguments.

Last season, he became the quickest player in NBA history to reach 2,200 points, 1,100 rebounds and 300 blocks by age 21. He ranked fourth in player efficiency (26.5) behind only Kevin Love (26.9), James (29.3) and Durant (29.8). He finished in the top 15 of total win shares (10.4), despite playing for a 34-win Pelicans team.

Talk of his continued ascension, then, must start giving way to a different slant: his arrival.

This isn’t a player the NBA is waiting for anymore. He is here and, health permitting, isn’t going anywhere. Next to James and Durant is right where he belongs and will stay.

With this placement comes responsibility, even in the powerhouse-packed Western Conference.

Superstars are evaluated by both individual and collective success. Having already put himself on the individual map, Davis’ next task lies in ending New Orleans’ three-year playoff drought.

James’ first postseason appearance came in his third year. So, too, did Durant’s first playoff junket. Chris Paul—the superstar whose footsteps Davis follows—led this very franchise to a postseason berth in his third season.

If they are the company Davis is to hold, delivering on postseason ambitions is the bar to which he must be held. While he doesn’t have a safety net like Durant did in 2009-10—James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook—excuses that accompany a botched opportunity won’t be accepted as readily.

New Orleans has put talent around Davis. Jrue Holiday is an All-Star point guard. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans can still score. Ryan Anderson’s shorts catch fire not because he lies, but because he’s so lethal from three-point range. Omer Asik is that second interior defensive presence Davis hasn’t yet played beside.

There is enough firepower on the Pelicans’ roster to make a playoff push. Davis’ supporting cast is not incapable. That, coupled with his surging status, should put them in the thick of everything.

None of which makes them perfect.

Unfamiliarity is a legitimate issue with this Pelicans team. Davis hasn’t spent much time alongside his most important sidekicks:

The absence of a legitimate superstar partner plays against the Pelicans as well. Holiday is the team’s second-best player and can only be described as a “fringe star” at best. Anderson is the only one of the aforementioned five to ever eclipse seven win shares, and he’s done so just once.

Playoff contention starts and finishes with Davis to that end. He represented 30.6 percent of the Pelicans’ victories last season and will be expected to shoulder an even heavier workload if his supporting cast is ravaged by injuries or underperforms.

Whatever he does, no matter the size or weight of the cross he bears, Davis must find a way to win more than ever before, as CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper recently detailed:

For Davis, entering his third season means he’s running out of time for being judged as a remarkable basketball entity who could turn into one of the best players in the league in a very short time and moving toward the eventual criticism of whether or not his skills produce enough wins. It’s an unfair distinction to throw at such a young player, but the results in this league always matter more than the results of the individual’s stat line.

Think of this as the Kevin Love Paradox.

Collective success takes precedence over individual dominance at some point for every superstar. Davis has reached that point sooner than most—including Love—because he’s so darn good.

Though he isn’t Love, and while the Pelicans aren’t the Minnesota Timberwolves, that’s the stigma Davis and friends are trying to avoid.

And it won’t be easy.

Sneaking into the playoff conversation will likely require the Pelicans to improve by at least 15 victories next season. The Dallas Mavericks snatched the Western Conference’s final postseason spot with 49 wins last year while the Phoenix Suns watched from home after rattling off 48.

Not one of the West’s playoff teams ranked outside the top 10 of both offensive and defensive efficiency either. The Pelicans ranked 13th in offense and 25th in defense.

Gaps such as those aren’t supposed to be erased in one year’s time. That this is up for discussion speaks to Davis’ prowess as well as the pressure that comes with transitioning from promising prospect to ripening superstar.

“Anthony is improving right now (due to) experience,” head coach Monty Williams told reporters about Davis’ Team USA stint. “He’s getting more and more experience. He’s understanding that he is a lead dog among a number of alpha dogs.”

Being viewed so highly, so soon is a gift.

It’s also a curse.

Any and all individual moves—statistical or otherwise—Davis makes from here on out won’t be unbelievable leaps as much as they are expected turns.

His next leap must be something different, and we’ll know it when we see it because he’ll have taken the Pelicans with him.

 

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and NBA.com.


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New York Knicks: 5 Reasons They Will Make The Playoffs

New York Knicks: 5 Reasons They Are Better Than
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff..
People aren’t talking about the Knicks much when it comes to this season and it’s hard to blame them, as they have only re-signed Carmelo Anthony, traded Tyson Chandler and hired Derek Fisher this offseason and they missed the playoffs, but this team has talent. There seems to be 10 teams in the East that can make the playoffs and based on talent, they are probably 7-9, but they are better than the Knicks team which was just the 9th seed in the East. Yes, the conference is better, but for 5 reasons they will make the playoffs this season.
1. Carmelo Anthony
– When you have one of the five best players in your conference and the best scorer, you have a strong chance to make the playoffs and the Knicks have Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo will give them about 30 points and 8 rebounds per game and he alone gives them an excellent chance to be one of the 8 best teams in the East. Having one of the …

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After Tough Playoffs, Mario Chalmers Promises a Major Comeback for Heat

MIAMI — It had been nearly a month since his downward spiral had finally stopped, only because the NBA season had cruelly ended. Even after enduring enough recrimination and ridicule to last any athlete a dozen lifetimes, Mario Chalmers still couldn’t stop blaming himself.    

“I just needed to be by myself,” Chalmers told Bleacher Report last week, following a morning workout at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I just needed to get away. That was the main thing.”    

Yet, for a while, the only place he went was deeper inside his own head.      

“To be honest, I sat in the house and pouted,” Chalmers said. “I felt like, for us to have the opportunity to accomplish a three-peat like that, and not being able to perform to the best of my ability, not being able to be there for my team. … I just felt like I let people down. Especially with it being my contract year, I feel like I let myself down along with the Heat organization.”

What Chalmers had done, after a solid regular season as the Miami Heat‘s starting point guard, was completely come apart in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, to the point that head coach Erik Spoelstra pulled him from the starting lineup for Game 5 in San Antonio.

That came after Chalmers had started in his last 280 regular-season or playoff appearances, dating back to Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals. That came after Chalmers had made his name, as a collegian and as a pro, for self-assurance that at times exceeded, but also enhanced, his abilities. 

“You know, for the first time in my career, I felt like I wasn’t…yeah, my confidence wasn’t there,” Chalmers said. “Going through that whole San Antonio series, I just felt like in the playoffs I kept getting worse and worse every round. I just couldn’t figure it out.”

Even as others—coaches, teammates, family, friends, reporters—had all the answers. 

“Yeah, that’s the worst thing, because you never know,” Chalmers said. “Everybody in my ear, talking about ‘We need you, we need you to do this, we need you to do that.’ And then when it comes to the game, I didn’t feel involved. Like, you all talk about how y’all need me, but y’all didn’t put me in position to do anything. In previous years, if I was in that position, I would make sure I would go get the ball, I would put myself in position to score. I felt like this year, we all just took too much of a back seat in the Finals.”

And after it was over, after he’d averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 fouls and 2.0 turnovers while shooting 33.3 percent from the field in the Finals, he struggled to find anything or anyone to move him forward.

Then, at last, someone did.

“It was actually my son, really,” Chalmers said. “He was with me that whole time. I would do some stuff with him, and then I would just go sit down somewhere. And he came to me and was, like, ‘Dad, don’t worry about it, let’s go play basketball, I’ll beat you.’ Just being around your kids, that just brings a smile to your face. That triggered me in my mind, like, it’s not the end of the world. You win some, you lose some. You’ve still got the bigger picture, and you’ve still got another year to come back and get better.”

So did he let Zachiah win?

“Nah, I didn’t,” Chalmers said, laughing. “I think he only scored one point. I kind of took it out on him a little bit.” 

Still, even as Chalmers’ psyche was recovering, his future remained uncertain. His contract had expired on June 30 and, after playing six seasons in Miami—the last three for a total of $12 millionhe was hardly guaranteed to return. At the start of free agency, it actually seemed like a longshot, and not only to Heat fans who had seen first-round draft pick Shabazz Napier added to Norris Cole on the team’s point guard depth chart.  

“I didn’t think I’d be back,” Chalmers said. “I didn’t think that at all. I didn’t even think the Heat would want me back, to be honest. That’s how I felt like my playoff performance was, that they didn’t want me back, they wanted to go another direction. So that was in my mind, too, but I was, like, if it happens, it happens.”

He received some encouragement from Heat general manager Andy Elisburg, who called to say that the team still considered him part of the family and still had an interest in retaining him. They just needed to see how LeBron James‘ free agency played out, and they’d come back to him. ”I at least knew that one team wanted me right now,” Chalmers said. “So that was a good thing.” 

Uplifted by that knowledge, Chalmers tried to show the world that he’d shaken off his stupor, posting Instagram video evidence of strength and fitness training, announcing he had “sat around long enough,” and sharing his signature line for the summer: “Minor setback for a major comeback.” 

That was July 10.

That night, James flew back from Las Vegas to Miami with Dwyane Wade, still seemingly up in the air about whether he’d sign with the Heat or Cavaliers. Early the next afternoon, Sports Illustrated published James’ “Coming Home” essay.

Two nights later, Chalmers agreed to a two-year, $8.3 million contract with the rapidly reworked Heat. Pat Riley added him back to a roster thatby week’s endwould officially include Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng to supplement the re-signed Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen. 

And, after signing the contract, Chalmers’ own workload intensified, chronicled with frequent Instagram posts that often referenced “the grind.” They were for himself, and for the public. 

“[I was] just saying that I didn’t give up on myself,” Chalmers said. “I didn’t quit. A lot of people doubted me, a lot of people still doubt me. But I believe in myself. And I’ve got a good organization that believes in me too.”

He hopes to reward that organization with stronger play from start to finish this season, due in part to a reshaped body. After initially joining James and Wade in trying to follow now-former teammate Ray Allen’s paleo diet, Chalmers felt irritable without all of the carbohydrates, especially as he intensified his workouts.

But even after altering his eating regimen somewhat, he insists he’s already close to “tip-top shape.” Chalmers has been training at the P3 sports training complex in Santa Barbara and noted he was “getting back to the basics” with Wade, Cole, McRoberts, Udonis Haslem and others during three strenuous but enjoyable days at Indiana University.

Chalmers returned from California early so he should lead the Heat’s young players in their team’s practice gym.

He’s also adopted a healthy attitude, as it relates to his reshaped role, one that he characterizes as “a jack of all trades.”

Pat Riley, in a video address to fans, called Chalmers “a player that we feel very confident about, back at starting point guard.” Still, Chalmers recognizes that—with two other point guards on the roster and no established backup for Wadehe might need to return to his Kansas roots, spending some time at both spots. Spoelstra and Riley have each told him separately that he will have the ball in his hands more, with more opportunities to score. 

“I feel like I’ve finally got a chance to shine, show my real game,” Chalmers said. “Me, CB, D-Wade and the rest of the guys, we’re going to pick it up, we’re still going to play Miami Heat basketball, and we’re still gonna be a competitor.”

He says confidence is no longer an issue.

“Fresh season,” Chalmers said. “Fresh start. Got a fresh team. You know, everybody [is] forgetting about us right now. That’s when we shine, when people forget about us.”

He has made this point often on Instagram as well, warning the pundits to “keep sleepin on the Heat,” promising fans that ”we will b back heat nation,” taunting the doubters with “u want some come get some.” He has even continued to use the #heatles hashtag, even though only six players remain from the 2013 champions, and though he recognizes the Heat aren’t the NBA’s most hunted team anymore.

They were for a while. Hunted and, by some, hated. Like few teams in NBA history. 

“Four years,” Chalmers said. “And now we’re the forgotten team. So it’s good. We all accept it. I’ve talked to D-Wade several times, I’ve talked to CB several times. We’re ready.”

Wade and Haslem have been with the Heat since 2003, Chalmers since 2008, Bosh since 2010. He references the song “Seen It All“ by Jay-Z and Young Jeezy, as consistent with their circumstances: “There’s nothing new that we don’t know, that we don’t know what to expect and we don’t know what to put in to get out. So we’re ready for it.”

And while he speaks of a “totally different energy” and acknowledges “there’s a lot of emotions going around right now,” he doesn’t mean those as digs at the departed James. That probably needs to be made clear, after some of his recent, cryptic Instagram posts have been interpreted that way.

Chalmers laughs at those assumptions. 

“I mean, I’ve never, ever taken a shot at anybody on Twitter without saying their name,” Chalmers said. “I’m the type of person, if I’ve got something to say, I’m going to say it to your face. So all this stuff that they’re trying to break up between me and ‘Bron or whatever—I mean, I’ve talked to ‘Bron five or six times during the summer. That’s still going to be my big brother. We’re always going to be friends. On the court, we’re going to go at each other, we’re going to compete and we’re going to try to draw blood. But off the court, we’re still going to be friends, it’s still going to be a brotherhood. It’s just basketball stuff.”

So, what about the post on Aug. 23, vaguely referencing loyalty and royalty?

“That wasn’t even about him,” Chalmers said. “He’s from Cleveland, so that’s his loyalty. It’s nothing. None of my tweets, Instagram posts have been about anybody. I just like rattling people’s brains, make them think something.”

He smiles. But he is serious, and unambiguous, about something else:

How he’ll respond from his playoff setback. 

What does he say to those who don’t expect a major comeback?

“Just watch,” Chalmers said, smiling. “Just watch. I’m not gonna say nothing else. I’m not gonna toot my own horn or nothing. Just watch.” 

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @EthanJSkolnick.

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