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April 1, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:07 PM)

Greetings from Hollinger HQ, where it's a beautiful day if you're a Hawks fan -- just smoked the Lakers and now its 80 and sunny. Let's talk...

Cory (Champaign, IL)

Considering the remaining games, and considering the current "temperature" of each team, how do you think the final seating will end up in the West? And would your predictions be different than what your current Playoff Odds suggest?

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

The one thing I think might change is that Denver could fall another spot or two, especially if they lose to Portland tonight. Nuggets don't look well to me.

Bob (TX)

J-Holl, The Spurs are playing well lately. But without HCA I can't see them beating the Lakers or Jazz in the first round. Who would they like to see to start the playoffs? Mavs? Suns? Nugs?

John Hollinger
  (12:09 PM)

Dallas or Denver is your stock answer for who any of the other six teams should want to see ... neither is exactly killing right now. I agree it will be tough for SA without home court, but that applies even more in a Utah series than it would against LA. And Utah beat them 4-0 in regular season. I wrote about this in today's PER Diem, but a lot of those teams at the bottom would probably rather face LA, believe it or not.

David Stern (Anti Milwaukee)

Why do I hate the Bucks? Remember me openly cheering for Philly in 2001 and Dikembe Mutombo fouling only 7 times in 7 games. Now Cleveland outshoots Milwaukee 45-9 in a game. Thats FANTASTIC!!!!!

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

Oh goody, I hadn't heard a small-market team rant about conspiracies in several hours. News flash: The Bucks foul a lot. Because of that, nights like yesterday's are bound to happen once in a while.

Suns (PHX)

SHHHHHHHHHH.................. Don't tell anyone about us.

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

Trying to stay quiet but it's getting difficult.

Matt (DC)

Professor, if the Mavs end up at #2 and positioned to play the Spurs, do you think they'll tank a game so they get the Thunder?

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

You mean, would Dallas intentionally move down to No. 3? I can't imagine doing that and giving up home court in a second round series -- the difference between Spurs and Thunder isn't large enough to make such a sacrifice.

Joe (Utah)

If the Jazz were to get the top pick in the draft would you pick Wall or Turner? And what does that do to their status in the league?

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

I'd trade down to No. 2 and take Turner. It would immediately make Jazz scary, scary good.

Mitch (Chicago)

Can the Blazers reach 50 games in your eyes? Also McMillan for COY?

John Hollinger
  (12:14 PM)

Blazers will win 50 or 51. McMillan is a strong contender for COY but I just can't see anyone beating out Skiles ... the expectations for Milwaukee this year were in the 20s and Redd hardly played, yet they're gonna win 46 or so and grab No. 5-6 seed.

Michael (Cali)

If the Blazers get matched up with Dallas in the first round, don't you think with the the success they've had against them and their recent blowout win with Dallas' post deadline roster, the Blazers have a great shot of advancing to round 2?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

Yes, absolutely, and that could be either a 2-7, a 3-5, or a 4-6 pairing depending on how the final two weeks play out. Dallas is clearly Portland's preferred opponent; Utah is just as clearly whom they want to avoid.

Abasin (Champaign, IL)

Without handchecking and the 3 second in the paint rule which makes it easier for a perimeter player to score and drive to the basket, how can you compare Lebron's season to MJ's in 87-88??

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

Every between-era comparison in every sport is fraught with those kinds of debates. In addition to the shifts you mention, the game has changed a hundred other different ways from Jordan's era. Nonetheless, we try to make it as apples-to-apples as we can, and PER takes care of some of the trickiest stuff (pace, league averages) automatically.

Berry (LA)

Why do i get the feeling that every Laker series in the playoffs is going to be like the Houston - Laker series from last season? 7 games, can't win on road?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

You say that like you're certain they'll have more than one series.

Alex (SLC)

Utah and PHX are playing great right now. How tragic would it be if they had to face each other instead of each getting a shot to off the Lakers?

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Well, it won't be in Round 1, but it could be in Round 2 if they each can pass Dallas in the standings. That'd be unfortunate, yes, since I'd argue they're playing the best of the West's eight playoff teams right now.

PK (Phoenix)

Are the Suns really better defensively this year? Show me the numbers Professor.

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

Depends on comparison point. If you're just comparing to the Gentry games from a year ago, then yes, they're much better defensively. If you're comparing full-season stats, no -- they're still just 24th in Defensive Efficiency.

MP (Israel)

Hi JohnDo you think the NBA should move towards ranking on basis of average point margin and not Win-Loss? You mentioned the other day it is a better predictor, and this way every basket counts and less garbage-time for fans.Thanks

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

No, I think that would be terrible -- teams would run up the score on the hapless Nets and T'wolves. Plus we'd never get the joy of watching Jason Collins bang home a garbage time jump shot.

Scott (Ohio)

Beno Udrih has averaged about 10 assists a game over the last 7 games for the Kings. Do you think he is capable of doing this on a regular basis and if so do the Kings move Tyreke to the 2 guard?

John Hollinger
  (12:21 PM)

I think Tyreke should move to the 2 regardless. Udrih has been one of the most improved players in the league this year, and while I'm still a bit skeptical he can play this way over a prolonged period, he's been a very solid rotation player this season.

Jordan (Toronto)

Any thoughts on the Raptors free fall post All Star break?

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

Look at their schedule during their "rough" start of the year, then during their 22-10 "renaissance", and then during the recent "tumble" ... Raps played a bunch of patsies in the middle of the year and it led them to believe they were better than they really were.

John (TX)

Hold on there professor. The Spurs are right up there with Utah and the Suns according to your power rankings. Are you saying you don't believe your numbers? Look at that SOS Last 25% of games!

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

I have a lot of health questions with San Antonio and I'm not sure how they're going to be answered. They're a threat, absolutely, but if Manu isn't playing at an all-NBA level they're not going to go far, and I'm not sure how much longer he can keep this up.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Odds Wizards can draft a top 5 guy and sign 2 max contract free agents? I'm figuring Bosh and Johnson.

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Look at what Leonsis did with the capitals -- they're not going for quick fixes. That's what the last group tried and it didn't work.

Alex (Charlotte)

John, talk to me about the bobcats. Do you think they could win a playoff series? They play awesome D and are very athletic. Could definitely put a scare in one of the higher seeds.

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Hard part for Charlotte is that they're almost certainly going to land at No. 7, which means Orlando in the first round. I'd give the Cats a fighting chance against Atlanta or Boston, but Orlando's too good for them.

Rick (NYC)

What kind of complications can you invision when Tony Parker returns to the SA lineup about a week before the playoffs? I'm not arguing that SA is a better team without TP, b/c they're not, but how do you think SA is going to handle his reinsertion, especially wth Manu thriving and George Hill emerging, both in Tony's absence?

John Hollinger
  (12:27 PM)

I agree that this will be tricky. The one nice thing bout Hill is that he can play with Parker as a 2, so the minuets adjustment won't be too severe. Additionally, I'm wondering if the time off helps Parker's feet recover and restore some of his speed -- he's looked a step slower all season.

Jad (Halifax Canada)

Hey Professor, Who do you think should be on top of the Nets coaching candidates??? How does Byron Scott sound?

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

That's a joke, right? I think the Nets might make their draft/free agent moves before they pull the trigger on a coach -- it's hard to make a good hire when you're not sure what you have.

Jordan (SLC)

Any predictions for the Lakers/Jazz matchup tomorrow night. Jazz playing really well, but the Lakers might come out to show they can right the ship.

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

I shy away from one-game predictions because the variation can be enormous (to wit, Dallas beat New York by 50 and lost to them by 34 in the same season). Playoff Odds have LA as 1-point favorite after adjusting for home-court; I could buy that.

Robert (Quebec City)

Do you think Bosh, Turkoglu or Jay Triano will be back in Toronto next year?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

Only Turkoglu. And only because they can't find anyone to take him off their hands.

Pete (Denver)

Do the Blazers have a shot at the western conference finals if they can avoid Utah? They seem to match up well with the Mavs, Suns and even the Lakers

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

I think they'd need either a perfect-storm bracket or an injury for that to happen. That's how I feel today, anyway. The margin between these teams is pretty small, so try me back in two weeks.

Josh (ATL)

John, shouldn't we expect a relatively young decline for Lebron, given that he carries so much weight and plays a high flying style? I think that will have to catch up with him eventually

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

I agree, but LeBron's "decline" years are still going to be better than 99.9% of the players in the history of basketball. Does put some added pressure on this season for Cavs, however -- even if he stays, it's not clear how long he's this ridiculously dominant.

Matthew (Orlando)

Do you feel vindicated for saying that Orlando made the right choice getting Vince Carter instead of keeping Hedo Turkoglu?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

Vindication is a bit strong. I thought he had a better chance of success than Turkoglu did given their age and production, and it played out that way. But we make a lot of calls before (and during) seasons and none of us is batting 1.000 on them.

Ray (San Antonio)

You have been on the Utah bandwagon before John and it's never ended well for them. Shouldn't you be backing off your love for them.

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

I get this a lot in emails/Tweets, and I think it's time for a fact-check. I was on their bandwagon exactly once, in 2008, when they had the top power ranking in the West entering the playoffs, and I got off right before round 2 in L.A because I'd just had a front-row seat for the Lakers' four-game demolition of Denver.

Joe (Chicago)

You're really down on Derek Fisher, but the Lakers outscore the opposition by 9 points a game when he's on the floor and only 2 points a game when he's not. That's a differential of 7 points a game, which is second-best on the team- better than Pau Gasol, even. Does that make you wonder whether there may be subtle ways in which Fisher is still very effective?

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

The more obvious explanation is that he plays virtually all his minutes with Kobe and Pau because he's the first sub to come off the floor.

Sebastian (Krakow, Poland)

If you only analyzed the post all star break games would the Mavs still be 15th?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

Probably not 15th, but probably pretty close . Dallas' point diff is slightly better since the break, but it's against a very soft schedule (29th over last 25%, though that doesn't include some tougher games just after break) and with 13-10 home-road split.

Dillon McDonald (Colorado)

How do you think the Nuggets chances for winning the title are?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

I'm not sure that's a realistic proposition at this point. Sorry.

C (Charlotte)

Miami's schedule is so easy that anything less than 5 would be a surprise to me, but I don't think Milwaukee at 6 is a given. Charlotte and Milwaukee will be fighting until the last day of the regular season for 6. We are only 2 games back with a chance to pull within one after our game against them at home on Friday.

John Hollinger
  (12:45 PM)

Couple things makes me more pessimistic than you: 1) Milwaukee owns the tie-break, 2) Bucks are playing better than Cats, 3) Bucks may very well be playing Boston and Atlanta's scrubs in their final three games, turning tough scrums into laughers.

Scott (Milwaukee)

I don't disagree the Bucks are aggressive and commit fouls but a 45 to 9 discrepancy is absolutely unrealistic. I believe if you watched the tape would definitely saw a game called in the Cav's favor. Bucks players are getting very frustrated because this is nightly. You can see it in interviews. It's very unlkikely that the Bucks actually commit less fouls than their opponents but the extremely large difference is not fair. It is also completely unfair for you to just claim the ealier post is a rant and a call for a conspiracy. The Bucks are second last in FTA.

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

The last line in your message is the telling one. The Bucks don't draw fouls because they shoot too many Js. Believe it or not, other small market teams get to the line.

David (OKC)

Say OKC gets Utah and Portland gets Dallas. Is it crazy to assume that they could both advance?

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

Not crazy, although I'd like Portland's chances a lot better than OKC's. Thunder are a difficult match-up for Jazz.

Mike (RI)

John, sometimes you have to stay away from all your stats and do the eye test. The Mavs are much better then the 15th best team in the league with the trades they have made and how they have gelled. The Mavs are a top 5 team in the league.

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

This is probably the biggest point of disagreement I have with the Mavs supporters -- the impact of the trade, and particularly of Butler. He still has the star rep, but he's slipped a LOT from two-three years ago. He wasn't having a good year in Washington and hasn't been any better in Dallas; he's an isolation jump-shooter in a system that has plenty of that already and he brings nothing to the table defensively. Mavs fans hated Howard (not that they didn't have their reasons) and were ecstatic to see anybody else come in, but the Gasol trade it ain't. The #s bear it out -- adjusted for schedule and home court, Dallas's point diff isn't any better after trade than before. While I think that last data point is a bit TOO pessimistic, I don't see Butler as a game-changer.

Mav's Fan (Dallas)

Please tell us that our team matters! Until then we will continue to harass you stats highlighting our underwhelming scoring margin and soft defense. Boo hoo!

Mike (NY)

John, sometimes you have to stay away from all your stats and do the eye test. The Knicks are much better then the 25th best team in the league with the trades they have made and how they have gelled. Get with it.

Bob (Beantown)

John you are so confident that Orlando will beat Boston in the playoffs, even though they never beat us when we were truly healthy this season, I can promise you Orlando is praying Atlanta finishes 3rd and not the Celts. How did you get a job?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

News flash: Orlando wasn't truly healthy for those games either, and unlike Boston they're going to be truly healthy in the playoffs. As far as getting the job, remember, a snappy cover letter with a sharp introductory sentence never fails.

Matt (Fort Collins)

I saw Cuban's thoughts on weighing road margin more than other things...could it be because Dallas is a good road team? I guess it's okay for an owner to be a homer, but he's not foolin anyone.

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

It didn't make sense to me either .. I think that's partly because communicating in 140-character 'paragraphs' doesn't make for real great discussion. But the road thing doesn't connect logically -- my home game is your road game, the one can't be more or less important than the other. Put another way, if we play a two-game series and the road team wins both times, that doesn't suddenly make both of us better than if the home team had won each.

Eric (Virginia)

Chances of a Jazz/Lakers West final and a Cleveland/Orlando East final?

John Hollinger
  (12:58 PM)

I think the latter is much, much more likely than the former. Just too many potential stumbling blocks in the first two rounds in the West. Also, the Lakers aren't exactly killin' right now.

Kyle (atlanta)

Why all the talk about the west? How far do you see the Hawks going in the playoffs this year. Their starting five is really good plus they have Jamal Crawford off the bench.

John Hollinger
  (1:00 PM)

I think they're going to have their hands full if they get Milwaukee in the first round. After that, it gets extremely difficult. I just can't see Orlando or Cleveland losing to anyone -- and I mean ANYone -- other than each other. Both those teams are just so stacked.

Joe (SLC)

John, did you post Mike from NY's question to prove the Knicks have the most ridiculous homers in the league? Because me and my Jazz friend resent that. Also, FYI, Deron Williams remains better than Chris Paul.

Nate (Chicago)

As a bulls fan, should I succumb to the likelihood that they won't catch the raptors for the 8th seed? The raptors struggles keep getting my stupid hopes up....

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

Well, Bulls have to win the game on april 11th, that part goes without saying. And I think you need to hope Boston and Charlotte are locked into their playoff positions by the final two games and play their scrubs, that will help you immensely. If those things happen the schedule is easy enough that Bulls can make it ... otherwise they're toast.

Mark (Utah)

John if Utah gets OKC, who guards Durant for the Jazz? a 6'10 Shooter could create a lot of problems for them.

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

Gotta be AK. I think Miles and Matthews would probably get some run too, although they'd both be giving up an awful lot of length. OKC is a tricky match-up for Utah.

Ed (L.A.)

your crazy if you don't think LA can get past round one, I mean after all they are the defending champions the tittle goes through LA no matter what.

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

Is there some point bonus assigned for that which I'm not aware of?

Adam (Iowa City)

Hey John, the Thunder have beaten the Jazz 3 times this year

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Exactly. I think it would be reeeeal interesting ... By the way, I saw the last of those meetings, and Westbrook and Williams played the most physical PG battle I've ever seen. It was nuts. If those two teams play each other in the first round it will be worth watching for the PG battle alone.

Jacob Dorow (Cleveland)

so much talk about the west John, anyways wouldn't it be a dream come true for hoops fanatics to see a game seven in Cleveland against the Lakers with so much at stake? With Clevelanders thinking only the worst WILL happen?

John Hollinger
  (1:06 PM)

True...somehow if the opponent is Utah or Phoenix for that one it doesn't conjure up quite the same dramatic effect.

Gavin (Utah)

If the Jazz beat LA on Friday night. Making it LA 54-22, UTAH 51-26. What are the chances of Utah getting the #1 Seed?

John Hollinger
  (1:08 PM)

Virtually none. Lakers still have Sacto, Clippers and Minnesota on the schedule. I don't care how bad they look, they're getting to 57.

Ramie (Atlanta)

How can you say the Jazz should take Turner over Wall? I know DWilliams is great but Wall is arguably the most athletic player to ever play point guard in the history of the league. Passing on wall would be like passing on MJ cause you have Clyde.

John Hollinger
  (1:09 PM)

What if it's more like passing on Steve Francis because you have Deron Williams? I love Wall, but I don't think MJ is an apt comparison at all, and they can get a lot of assets (or shed contracts) to trade down one spot.

Steve (Salt Lake City)

John.. Do you think when AK comes back, even though he's so versatile, it might disrupt the Jazz chemistry that is really clicking right now?

John Hollinger
  (1:11 PM)

I don't think he has the ball enough to disrupt the chemistry. Working Parker back in for San Antonio will be much more challenging.

james (michigan)

i think your own biases get in the way of seeing the truth sometimes. the 2nd and 3rd championships of the 2000s lakers didnt exactly set the world on fire during the regular season. some times truly can "turn it on"

John Hollinger
  (1:13 PM)

The second championship team turned it on, but remember... they also got Fisher back from a foot injury right before the playoff started, and he proceeded to play the best basketball of his career that postseason. Don't agree on the third one... I'll always think Sac was the better team that year.

John Hollinger
  (1:14 PM)

Folks, that's all the time but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again next week, time might shift because of my schedule so keep an eye on the chat home page.