The 2014-15 NBA season is shaping up to be a good one.
Before we dive in here to the Top 10 plays from last month’s action, let’s take a look at one continuing trend and one big shift from this year to last.
Continuing Trend: Just like last season, it’s much easier for a mediocre team to sneak into the playoffs if you happen to play in the East.
Sure, the Atlanta Hawks own the league’s best record at (40-9), but if the season ended today there’d be a pair of (21-27) teams heading to the postseason (Hornets and Heat).
If you’re a bit slow at maths, this is a full six games below .500. Six games.
In contrast, New Orleans (#9 in the West) would be out at (26-22) and OKC (#10) would watch from home at (24-24).
The seventh-seeded Spurs are 12 games above .500 and would be seeded fourth in the East.
Big Shift: While it’s difficult to suggest that a (30-18) team is “struggling”, it’s still safe to say that the defending champs are certainly less than dominant in 2014-15.
But it’s not the Spurs who have really taken a dive.
This distinction belongs to the Heat and the Pacers.
The two clubs that were basically a pre-season shoe-in to battle in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals are a combined (38-59). Miami remains in the playoff hunt, but barring a miracle the Pacers will fall from the top seed all the way out of the postseason.
It’s too early to judge the up-and-down Thunder. If they can get into the playoffs healthy they’ll still be a dark horse – but that’s a big “if”.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Hawks have proven their near-upset in Round 1 of the playoffs was no fluke. Not only are they the current top seed in the East, but the nearest team (Raptors) is 7.0 games back.
In the West both Golden State and Memphis have jumped from “good” to “great” and the Warriors have lost less games this year than any other team in the league.
They’ve even got guys putting up 37 points in a quarter. Check it out: