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Looking ahead - Between now and the All-Star break

In two weeks, the NBA will be focusing on the All-Star Game and the various festivities taking place in Dallas. 

In the eyes of this writer, the NBA has the best All-Star Game of any sport in the world, but when you've got a team that's at the top of the sport like our Cavaliers are, the ASG is just seen as a week-long pit of despair during which we have no opportunity to see our beloved team.

So, we'll just have to suffer during the six days between Cavs games in mid-February.  But wheile we're suffering, what kind of a lead will we be enjoying in the Eastern Conference chase?  And will we still be ahead in the run for the best NBA record?

Let's take a closer look below the fold;

Looking at the schedule, the Cavaliers and Orlando do appear to have the easier routes between now and the break.  But the injuries we've suffered make nothing a guarantee.  Here's the combined schedules for the top six teams in the NBA.  I've laid out my predictions for each individual game.  Let's see what kind of a prognosticator I am.

Cleveland opponents Boston opponents Orlando opponents
L.A. Clippers (20-26) L.A. Lakers (36-11) @ Detroit (15-30)
Memphis (25-20) @ Washington (16-30) Milwaukee (19-25)
Miami (24-22) Miami (24-22) Washington (16-30)
N.Y. Knicks (18-28) New Jersey (4-41) @ Boston (29-15)
New Jersey (4-41) Orlando (31-16) New Orleans (25-21)
Orlando (31-16) @ New Orleans (25-21) @ Chicago (23-22)
@ Cleveland (37-11)


Atlanta opponents L.A. Lakers opponents Denver opponents
@Oklahoma City (25-21) @ Boston (29-15) @ San Antonio (27-18)
L.A. Clippers (20-26) @ Memphis (25-20) Sacramento (16-29)
Chicago (23-22) Charlotte (23-22) Phoenix (27-21)
@ Washington (16-30) Denver (31-15) @ L.A. Lakers (36-11)
@ Memphis (25-20) @ Portland (27-21) @ Utah (28-18)
Miami (24-22) San Antonio (27-18) Dallas (30-16)
@ Utah (28-18) San Antonio (27-18)


OK, calm down, let me explain some of my picks.  I can see some of you out there are getting upset already.

- The Cavaliers SHOULD go 6-0.  Playing all six games at home is the key.  I'm biased and I admit it.  Orlando has the best shot to knock off the Cavs, mainly due to the absence of Mo Williams.  However, I'm still not convinced that Vince Carter was a comparable replacement for either Alston or Turkoglu.  Both those guys know how to pass the ball, Carter does not.

- The Celtics are healthy AND losing still.  I'm convinced they are still a product of their own hype.  They're going 3-3 til the break.  The Lakers and Magic will beat them in Boston, and New Orleans is 16-5 at home.  I'm calling that upset now.

- Orlando is going to go 5-2.  They will pull off the win in Boston, but will get caught looking ahead to the Cavs when they're in Chicago.  The next night, LeBron will atone for last year's playoffs in front of Charles Barkley's fishstick-loving face.

- Atlanta will go 5-1, playing a relatively easy schedule down the stretch.  But those damn Grizzlies are beasts at home (17-5).

- The Lakers are going to have a spot of trouble and will go 4-3 before the break.  They'll beat the Celtics, but run into problems at Memphis.  Denver will avenge last year's playoffs, and then Utah will stay strong at home (19-6 so far).  The Lakers are not a great road team (13-8), and will show it against the better teams the final week before the break.

- Denver is out to prove they are the team to knock off the Lake show in the West, and they'll go 5-2 before the break.  At San Antonio and at Utah will be problems.  If they can take one of those two, the Lakers might be looking over their shoulders throughout the rest of the season.

If my calls are correct, the standings will look like this;

Cleveland 43-11 - L.A. Lakers 40-14 -
Atlanta 35-17 7 Denver 36-17 3.5
Boston 32-18 9
Orlando 36-18 7


Yes, I know that Orlando will technically have a better record than Boston...but division winners get the top 3 seeds, so the Magic would be behind Boston in seeding.

Also, I know that Dallas, San Antonio, and Utah are in the hunt in the West.  This being a blog based on an East team, I focused on that conference more.

Now, let's see how we do!