Jan 29, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban yells at the referees during the second half of the game between the Mavericks and the Houston Rockets at the American Airlines Center. The Rockets defeated the Mavericks 117-115. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ITPST Syndrome (and the mystery of just what ITPST is!)

If you saw the title I hooked you because you probably had no idea what the letters meant. Actually, I’m deciding right now what they should mean. We’ll learn together.

Tonight the 63rd NBA All-Star Game will be played in the awesome (yes I’ve been) city of New Orleans, capping off another ratings smashing weekend, with the LeBron James interview still to come on the league-wide off day on Monday. I’ve already written some All-Star pieces that you probably, like Tony Stark did to J.A.R.V.I.S’ safety briefings, ignored. Tony’s house got nuked soon after though…soooooo, your move, friend.

The NBA’s halfway point came and went in late January, but the All-Star Game, despite being played three weeks later, gets all the credit. As Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon and Kevin Hart again abuse their roles in show business at basketball fan’s expenses, All-Star Weekend is indeed a valuable benchmark in the 82-game season. It’s around this time that the phrase, If The Playoffs Started Today, starts getting thrown around prematurely, irresponsibly and just too damn early.

Granted, as a Mavericks fan, a standard game can feel like dog years but folks, we’ve still got a ton of basketball left. Let’s not rush it.

I’ll get it out of the way, ITPST the Mavericks would be the 6 seed visiting the 3 seed Rockets. And the Heat and Pacers would “simulate all” until the Eastern Conference Finals.

The NBA playoffs are my favorite postseason event, but as we stand here in mid-February it’s such a waste of time to start trying to visualize what the brackets will look like in April. It’s fun, sure, but every game counts and the focus belongs on the next opponent not the standings. A corny sentiment from a fan but aside from the only two contenders out east, every single playoff spot is no guarantee. Blink and you’re 4th, blink harder and you’re 9th. Watch an elderly compose an SMS text and you’re in the lottery.

Dat Dood

After Indy and Miami, the Eastern Conference 3-10 spots are only separated by 10 games. In the other direction, the 3-2 seed gap is just .5 games less at 9.5.

In the brutal Western Conference, the thunDeruantulas have created some space atop the conference with a cozy four game cushion. When Westbrook comes back they’re either going to be unbeatable or wonder if they really should consider just building around one 7 foot shooting guard.

Next are the eternal San Antonio Spurs. Guess who leads them in games played, the lone Spur to appear to each of the team’s 53 games so far this season?

I bet you guessed Marco Belinelli. Gut feeling. It’s Patrick Mills. Only Mills, Marco and Boris Diaw have played in at least 50 of the team’s games. But it’s Coach Popovich.

The Spurs are 2nd and two games up on a trio of legit title contenders.

Houston has won seven in a row, by virtue of tiebreakers they’re next at number 3.

The Clippers and Griffin Force (ugh) come up after Houston, ahead of Portland. The Blazers trail only because of division placement and would have home court as the inferior seed ITPST. Aldridge and Lillard and Meyers Leonard have a .006 advantage over CP3 and Blake and Byron “Don’t Call me BJ but if you do what can I do cause things aren’t working out here in L.A.” Mullens.

However, after starting 24-5 the Blazers are only 12-14 since, losing two very important games vs. OKC and @ the Clippers just before the break.

The Western Conference asteroid field resides between seeds 5 and 6 at this point.

4.5 games later are the Dallas Mavericks, who have been hovering around the 7 and 8 spot all year just to jump into 6th right before the break thanks to this.

But even with a little help from their enemy, the Mavs’ hold on the number 6 seed is a mere half game over the (can’t believe I’m saying this) Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors.

Of course, only 8 per conference make the postseason for now *Bane voice* (waits… oh no hyperlink? Thought we had a hyperlink) and the 9 seed will have the turrible misfortune of being left out with a good record and held out of the lottery by all the D-League teams in the East. (Excluding New Orleans (to Philly) and Minnesota (to Phoenix) who took the initiative of trading their pick)

Right now the Memphis Grizzlies are in the number 9 spot, overcoming injuries to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley as well as Tony Allen. The Grizzlies are as many games back as their offensive pace measured in parsecs, 1.5.

Further down are the Timberwolves and Nuggets, who you can count on for entertainment if you’re watching. It will probably just end at 82 games.

Nobody else is really a threat unless Kobe Bryant returns to evaporate a 13 game deficit and catapult the Lakers into the playoffs, now costing them more of their future not only financially but in the Draft.

Speaking of the draft, the Sacramento Kings pick is top 12 protected from the Andrew Bynum via J.J. Hickson-Omri Casspi swap. I don’t expect them to risk losing that. At the other end, the Pelicans pick to Philadelphia in the Jrue Holliday-Nerlens Noel draft night swap is top 5 protected. They’d REALLY have to falter and get help from other bad teams to keep it, but it would be entertaining to see the 76ers panic if they don’t get the two lottery picks they’re banking on.

Goran Dragic should have made it, just not in this guy's spot.

For the first and last time ever, I want the Oklahoma City Thunder to have something. Mr. Presti, I hope you receive our first round pick (top 20 protected) via Lamar Odom via Jordan Hill via James Harden because I plan on finishing the season in June. Just don’t amnesty Perkins, i’m thoroughly enjoying that part of your team.In conclusion – because all good things end – I don’t have the temperament or mental stamina or supply of heart

medication to look too far ahead when my team’s playoff spot is on a thin string.

ITPST the Mavs would be 6th. Could be 2 spots worse or 2+ spots catastrophic. It can also get better.

Live in the moment. HOWEVA  ITP(DID)ST, I can tell you that he is ready. That, I can tell you. And good luck to him in tonight’s 63rd rendition of the National Basketball Association All-Star Game. Baseball, take notes. Just don’t use an IPad, Dominique Wilkins, Magic Johnson and Julius Erving really struggled with those I don’t expect the purists to do any better.

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Tags: Basketball Dallas Mavericks If The Playoffs Started Today NBA NBA All-Star NBA Playoffs

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