Ball Don't Lie - NBA

If you can wrap your mind around it, we're actually at the midway point of the NBA season. Most teams have played either 41 or 40 games, and with our limited math skills, this allows us to project a team's record for the entire season, flush with the knowledge that these teams have had half a season to get things right.

Do these projected records sound about right? Click the jump for more. Second in command, the Southeast Division.

Atlanta Hawks, projected record: 54-28

Does this sound about right?

Not that they've been the most hyped squad on this coil, but doesn't 54 wins seem a bit low? Perhaps you've been in stride with me as we pay extra attention to all those fabulous wins and slough off all the losses with a "they're the Hawks, what do you expect?"

The depth has helped, the coaching has been good (still disagree with the Hawks' insistence on switching so much, defensively, but it hasn't killed them), and while Joe Johnson(notes) has forced quite a bit this season, Josh Smith(notes) has played a cerebral, efficient style of ball from the outset. Finally. Give this man an All-Star appearance.

Orlando Magic, projected record: 52-30

Does this sound about right?

No. We went into further rumination regarding Stan Van Gundy's crew yesterday, but it bears repeating -- in spite of all the storm and stress behind the team's injuries and suspensions, the Magic are still underachieving. Vince Carter(notes) has fallen off, which would be no big deal if it weren't for the fact that he hasn't realized he's fallen off. Dwight Howard(notes) has decided to limit his superhero act to eight of every 10 plays (as opposed to 10 outta 10 from last season), and the team's depth hasn't been utilized properly, both the fault of the players (Brandon Bass(notes), Marcin Gortat(notes)) and the coach (why can't Ryan Anderson(notes) get more burn?).

Miami Heat, projected record: 44-38

Does this sound about right?

I'd say it sounds pretty good for Miami. The Heat got off to a quick start behind some lockdown perimeter defense, but the opponents shots have started to fall, and the Heat have fallen back to earth as a result. Still, winning over half your games in a holding-pattern season, with Dwyane Wade(notes) clearly taking a step in the wrong direction contribution-wise, is quite the accomplishment. Michael Beasley(notes) has shown signs, Jermaine O'Neal(notes) has become a (however limited) force again, and the Heat are playing as if they weren't considered expiring salary fodder. Which they are.

Charlotte Bobcats, projected record: 43-39

Does this sound about right?

Considering Larry Brown's presence, it should. We thought less of the Bobcats entering the season, though, in spite of Brown's appeal. Something about what seemed to a league-worst offense in the making. The trade for Stephen Jackson(notes), however pound-foolish, changed a bit of that, as did another knockout season from Gerald Wallace(notes), and a fine half-season from Raymond Felton(notes). The team's defense has been stout from the beginning, but the Charlotte offense might just be passable enough to secure the franchise's first-ever playoff berth.

Washington Wizards, projected record: 29-53

Does this sound about right?

Of course not. We gave the "could win 45, could hit the lottery again" caveat before the season, but we didn't mean it. A proper coach and all that offensive firepower? This should have been a playoff team. Hell, the Wiz were on pace for a crummier record even before all the Gilbert Arenas(notes) nonsense. If anything, the removal of Arenas' terrible defense and iffy locker-room presence could help the Wizards (they've played better thus far in Gilbert's absence). But Washington could crash even harder if GM Ernie Grunfeld decides to rebuild in a hurry and drop the big contracts (and big scoring averages) of Antawn Jamison(notes) and Caron Butler(notes).

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