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A VCU among NBA playoff teams? Let's take a look

by | Special to

Is there a Virginia Commonwealth among this year's NBA playoff teams?

Have to say: The chances of such a shocker occurring in the upcoming postseason are about the same as a team winning an NBA play-in game.

Speaking of which, what would be wrong with that?

It's quite possible Milwaukee and Charlotte could tie for the No. 8 spot in the East, and the Bucks would earn the spot based on a 2-1 season-series edge. That's right: They only met three times, unlike most interdivision matchups in the same conference.

Wouldn't a one-game playoff -- aka a play-in game -- be more fair?

Anyway, I digress. Our focus here is to uncover the VCU of the NBA. We'll focus our attention on the six teams most likely to land in the last spot (No. 8) in the Eastern and Western conferences: Indiana, Charlotte, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Memphis and Houston.

Let's take inventory of the key ingredients that have stirred VCU's amazing run:

Great 3-point shooting

Advantage: Rockets. They rank among the league's Top 10 in both 3s made and percentage, a potentially deadly combination. And they're hot right now, having gone 37 for 88 (42 percent) in their past four games, a stretch in which they've gone up against a couple of defensive heavyweights (Boston and Miami).

Aggressive perimeter defense

Advantage: Grizzlies. They not only rank No. 1 in the league in steals and feature two of the best ball-swipers in the NBA (Tony Allen and Mike Conley), but they also are led at the point with the league's player who most resembles VCU's Joey Rodriguez in former Ohio State star Conley.

An oddball coach

Advantage: Grizzlies. The NBA doesn't have Shaka Smart-type coaches, so we're left to pick the one with the coolest first name. Lionel Hollins wins in a landslide.

So what do we got? Clearly, it's a two-team race, kinda like VCU and Alabama-Birmingham were among the selection committee-bashers at the start of the NCAA tournament.

If you banked on UAB, you were out of your office pool before it even started. It says here Memphis, arguably the worst 3-point-shooting team in the NBA, is the league's UAB.

So, if the Rockets make the playoffs: Beware Lakers.

Here are this week's NBA Power Rankings, which afford the Grizzlies and Rockets much more lofty status than VCU's RPI rating:


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