Last Week's Predictions:
In last week's NBA Draft Lottery Watch, I predicted the change in the bottom five standings with the Suns moving into the third lottery position by surpassing the Cavaliers. However, I underestimated the Lakers who I thought would lose to the Grizzlies (and should have), as they have now moved back into the 8th and final playoff seed for the time being.
The Bottom Five:
Today, the Phoenix Suns are currently in the third position for the 2013 NBA Draft. Here is a look at the bottom five teams and their current records, as well as a look at their up-coming games this week, and some predictions on where they could be positioned afterward.
5. Detroit Pistons: 25-52
Upcoming games this week: 4/07 vs. Chicago Bulls, 4/10 @ Cleveland Cavaliers, 4/12 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
The Pistons have a tough game against the Bulls and should lose on the road to the Cavs as well, but should be able to beat the lowly Bobcats to finish the week 1-2 overall. The Pistons will probably be 26-54 by the start of next week, and stay in the 5th spot.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: 23-52
Upcoming games this week: 4/07 vs Orlando Magic, 4/09 @ Indiana Pacers, 4/10 vs. Detroit Pistons, 4/12 vs. New York Knicks
Now that Kyrie is back, the Cavs should be able to get at least a couple of wins this week. I expect them to get wins against the Magic and Pistons at home, but lose to both the Pacers and the Knicks. I expect the Cavs will finish the week with a record of 25-54, staying in the 4th spot.
3. Phoenix Suns: 23-53
Upcoming games this week: 4/07 vs. New Orleans Hornets, 4/09 @ Houston Rockets, 4/10 @ Dallas Mavericks, 4/13 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
With only seven games left to play in the season, the Suns are effectively playing for the third spot in the lottery with both Orlando and Charlotte refusing to let Phoenix out-suck them. The "good" news is, the Suns are now in that third spot and have a very good chance of holding onto their position with the only possible game I see them having a chance of winning this week against the Hornets. With a three game road-trip to follow, I believe the most likely outcome of these four games would be to go 1-3 overall. The Suns will likely be 24-56 to start next week, and should hold onto the third lottery position.
2. Orlando Magic: 19-58
Upcoming games this week: 4/07 @ Cleveland Cavaliers, 4/10 vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 4/13 vs. Boston Celtics
The Magic are playing terrible basketball right now, and appear to be in full-fledged tank mode competing with the Bobcats for the #1 pick overall. The only game I give them a chance at is against the Bucks at home, though I still think they manage to lose and go 0-3 on the week and finish at 19-61...remaining in the second lottery position.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: 18-59
Upcoming games this week: 4/09 @ Memphis Grizzlies, 4/12 @ Detroit Pistons, 4/13 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bobcats are awful, and even worse on the road. That said, I give them virtually no shot at winning against either the Grizzlies or the Pistons, and only a small chance of winning against the Bucks. I think the most likely scenario is that they go 0-3 on the week and finish with a record of 18-62 overall, good/bad enough to stay in the top lottery spot.
The Race for 8th
Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are half a game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs, with the Dallas Mavericks now behind by three games and closer to being eliminated from the race. Here is a look at these three teams' current records, and what they may look like by the end of the week.
8. Los Angeles Lakers 40-36
Upcoming games this week: 4/07 @ L.A. Clippers, 4/9 vs, New Orleans Hornets, 4/10 @ Portland Trailblazers, 4/12 vs. Golden State Warriors
I expect the Lakers to lose against the Clippers, but win against the Hornets. The other two games are a crap shoot. I think Portland could beat them on the road especially on a back-to-back...and the Warriors could get a win, but I'm inclined to believe the Lakers will pull out a victory against Golden State out of sheer desperation to stay in the 8th spot. I'm betting the Lakers go 2-2 on the week and end up with a record of 42-38; just good enough to hold onto the last playoff spot.
9. Utah Jazz 40-37
Upcoming games this week: 4/07 @ Golden State Warriors, 4/9 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 4/12 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Jazz are the Suns only real hope at this point. However, with a tough week ahead they could easily slip further out of the playoff hunt. The only game I see them winning this week is against the Timberwolves at home. I think the Jazz go only 1-2 on the week to close with a record of 41-38...and will likely be one game behind the Lakers going into the home stretch.
10. Dallas Mavericks 37-39
Upcoming games this week: 4/7 @ Portland Trailblazers, 4/10 vs. Phoenix Suns, 4/12 vs. Denver Nuggets
If the Mavericks don't go 3-0 this week, they probably won't make next week's list. Being three games out of the 8th spot with only six games left to play doesn't make them a very likely candidate...but the possibility still exists, so we can't give up on them yet...at least not completely. I'm sure the Suns will do their part to help the Mavs in their quest, but they will be hard pressed to get wins against Portland on the road, and the Nuggets at home who still scored 132 points against the Rockets last night even without Danilo Gallinari whom they lost to an ACL tear. My guess is that the Mavs go 1-2 on the week for a record of 38-41...and ensure they will be sitting at home when the playoffs begin.
Feel free to voice your opinions and predictions in the comments below!