15. Philadelphia 76ers (14): I know I picked Philly to make the playoffs prior to the season, however, I had no idea that they would be this good. They have a young, but talented roster to go along with very disciplined coaching – which means, they probably won’t pull any first round upsets, but you best believe that the Sixers will give a major scare to whoever their first round opponent ends up being.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (13): After holding the reigns as the NBA’s hottest team for quite some time, the Grizzlies have come back to earth (5-5 over their last 10 games) but it doesn’t look like they will fall out of the playoff race. They don’t do one thing exceedingly well; rather, they simply are just a very well-rounded team with a decent amount of depth.
13. New Orleans Hornets (10): Considering Dwyane Wade’s history with connecting NBA problems to national disasters, if he was on the Hornets, he probably would have compared Paul’s injury scare to Hurricane Katrina. Luckily for himself, Wade isn’t on the Hornets and luckily for the Hornets, Chris Paul is back in action.
12. Atlanta Hawks (11): The top three teams in the East are just so good at this point that it really doesn’t matter which seed the Hawks finish. They are exciting and have definitely seen a lot of growth this season, but they haven’t risen to the levels of Chicago, Boston or Miami just yet.
11. Houston Rockets (18): Winners of four straight, Clutch City is making one final push for the eighth seed and a first round date with their division rival San Antonio Spurs. If the Rockets come into the playoffs with enough momentum and the Spurs are just slightly fatigued, it wouldn’t be surprising to see their series go the full seven games.