Playoff Hopefulls?

Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald gives us his opinion.

As the midway point of the season approaches, the picture has become clearer. The haze of hope is fading into the reassurance of reality.

With the majority of the NBA’s teams either closing in on or — or having already passed — the 40-game mark, it is time to start the process of separating fact from fiction, the teams truly deserving of the hype from those that are here-for-now, the lucky from the legit.
Barring catastrophic injuries — or historic collapses — Boston, Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio are essentially postseason locks.And unless Kevin Garnett gets traded to his former team, Shaquille O’Neal channels his former self, Michael Jordan dons his former uniform or Elvis drops another album, Minnesota, Miami, Chicago, Memphis and Seattle can get a jump on reservations for the draft lottery.

That basically leaves 20 teams in the mix for 11 playoff spots, with three months left to fight for position in a race where not much separates the hoaxes from the serious hopefuls.

We take a look at eight playoff-caliber teams — four from each conference — that have had surprisingly good or stunningly disappointing starts, and determine if they are pretenders or contenders.

 LeBron James

Cleveland: The Cavs entered the weekend having won eight of 10 to overcome a rocky start marred by holdouts, injuries and an inactive offseason.

LeBron James has yet to get the roster help he needs, but he has responded by doing even more to prove last year’s run to the Finals was no fluke. No one else on the team scares you, but they do just enough to stay in games and give James a chance to deliver the knockout blow.

• Status: Contender

To see the rest of Michael Wallace’s picks click HERE

Source:  Miami Herald.Com