We're only halfway through the season, but if it ended today, guess what the playoff matchups in the Eastern Conference would include:
No.7 seed Charlotte (17-24) vs. No.2 seed Miami (30-13)
Here are the current NBA standings if you want to take a closer look.
By virtue of last night's home win over Philadelphia fueled by point guard D.J. Augustin's 31 points, Charlotte leapfrogged a couple of teams and currently holds the No.7 spot in the East. That's exactly where the Bobcats ended up last season, when No.2 seed Orlando swept them right out of the playoffs in four straight games.
Facing the LeBron-D.Wade-Bosh trio in a first-round series would end up as another first-round exit out of the playoffs almost certainly, but it sure would be entertaining. (The two teams also play Feb.4th here in Charlotte).
Looking at these standings also reminds me that as many problems as the Bobcats have had this season -- and there have been a ton, from the firing of Larry Brown to last night's announcement that Tyrus Thomas will be out 8 weeks with a knee injury -- they are still very much in the playoff picture.
The Eastern Conference has divided itself into 5 teams with 27 or more wins at the season's approximate halfway mark (Boston, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando).
The other 11 teams are scrabbling around, well below those numbers, hoping to make something happen. Charlotte remains in that mix, but as I wrote in my blog yesterday (see the item after this one), only a big-time move like a trade for Carmelo Anthony or a major draft-pick coup will get this Bobcats' team to move from the "have-not" category to the "haves." These guys may well make the playoffs, but they will be very hard-pressed to win more than one game when and if they get there.
5 days ago