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By Keith Wayland of the PFC Denver Nuggets

Here we are, six months after all the PFC hoopla started. 5,500 message board posts, 300 games, three fired GMs, two commissioners and countless questionable Loomer rules later – the PFC playoffs have arrived.

As luck would have it, there are still some incredibly close races being decided over the final week of the season. The Central Division winner and the eight seed in the Eastern Conference are still up in the air. Meanwhile, a couple of Western Conference teams still harbor hopes for their final playoff spot.

The following postseason preview is based on playoff seeding if the season ended today.

Eastern Team Wins
1 Miami * 99
2 Atlanta * 91
3 Toronto 90
4 Indiana * 80
5 Charlotte 89
6 Washington 84
7 Philly 80
8 Detroit 79
Out Orlando 78
Out Boston 76
Out Cleveland 75
Out Milwaukee 74
Out New Jersey 62
Out Chicago 54
Out New York 34

Western Team Wins
1 Portland * 97
2 Dallas * 92
3 Utah 87
4 Phoenix * 73
5 Denver 85
6 Minnesota 73
7 Houston 71
8 Sacramento 69
Out Golden State 65
Out Seattle 65
Out San Antonio 63
Out Lakers 62
Out Memphis 61
Out Clippers 59
Out NOK 58

* = division leader

Based on the probable line-ups of each playoff squad, the scheduled games for these players and their average production over the last 30 days of games, below is a look at the projected results and winners for each match-up

PFC Eastern Conference – First Round

Miami Heat (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Heat (21): Jason Hart (4), Cuttino Mobley (4), Tayshaun Prince (4), Eddie Jones (3), Udonis Haslem (3) and Memhet Okur (3)

Pistons (20): Jarrett Jack (4), Kevin Martin (4), Antawn Jamison (4), Shaq (3), Joe Smith (3), Andrea Bargnani (2)

Projected Results: (Based on average stats over the last 30 days and games scheduled)

NOTE: Win total allocated next to team name

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
MIA - 2 248.6 86.6 36.3 16.8 5.6 22.2 47.4% 74.9%
DET - 6 354.4 112.4 50.1 16.1 10.8 22.8 51.2% 70.9%

Pistons GM Andrew Westerdale had to navigate most of the regular season with Shaq (the team’s secondround pick!) planted firmly on the bench, while the Heat rode to the top of the Eastern Conference standings on the shoulders of fantasy superstar Dwyane Wade. With said shoulder now torn, Wade is out for at least a month. Shaq, on the other hand, is back and gunning for the playoffs as the offensive centerpiece of the revamped NBA Heat. With the tables turned, the Pistons look poised to demolish the top seed.

Even with their one game advantage, Miami will be hard pressed to compete in several categories. To survive, they’d have to win all three close ones – Steals, 3-Pointers and FT% - and find a way to steal another (FG% perhaps?) Then their superior win total during the regular season would break the 4-4 tie in their favor.

Miami GM Carlos Arturo’s best bet is to pray the Magic somehow end up as the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference after this week. The Heat match-up much better with Orlando, against whom they’d be competitive in every category with three-pointers and steals likely in the bag.

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
Magic 254.7 93 37.2 11.2 7.7 12.6 47.7% 74.4%

The Pick: Detroit 5-3

Atlanta Hawks (2) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (7)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Hawks (22): Andre Miller (3), Raja Bell (3), Randy Foye (4), Marvin Williams (4), Elton Brand (4), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (4)

76ers (18): Allen Iverson (4), Derek Fisher (3), Hakim Warrick (3), Linas Kleiza (3), Nick Collison (3), Dwight Howard (2)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
ATL - 5 280.6 120.3 120.3 19.3 20.9 9.0 44.6% 77.1%
PHI - 3 282.9 108.9 46.1 18.0 10.4 13.7 47.8% 76.6%

The voices in my head say:

“The Hawks are a really well rounded team peaking at the right time.Wow!Congratulations to Ruey Yen on drafting a fine team with Elton Brand and Andre Miller and trading for Big Z and if Randy Foye gets hot look out!A fine job!Really well rounded!But the 76ers have the power inside/outside combo of Allen Iverson and Dwight Howard, with AI there to get all the guard stats and Howard down low to get all the power stats and the right role players.Nick Collison!What a team!This is going to be a really a close race.Looking forward to it!Go Sixers!Thanks.”

It would indeed figure to be a close race, but with Dwight Howard scheduled to play a mere two games, 76ers GM Mark Pion will depend on super sleepers Nick Collison and Hakim Warrick to fill the big man stats. Even if they could field Jon Loomer’s shot stopping stool they’d still get killed on blocks and boards. Add in the Hawks sizeable advantage in assists and factor in their 90+ win season and they only have to take one of five fairly competitive cats to move on to the second round.

The Pick: Atlanta 6-2

Toronto Raptors (3) vs. Washington Wizards (6)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Raptors (18): Stephon Marbury (3), John Salmons (4), Mike Miller (3), Lamar Odom (3), Antoine Walker (3), Chris Bosh (2)

Wizards (22): Gilbert Arenas (4), Jason Terry (4), Luther Head (3), Stephen Jackson (3), Kenny Thomas (4), Mark Blount (4)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
TOR - 2 262.4 90.9 68.7 13.7 7.9 22.6 44.7% 80.6%
WAS - 6 336.1 92.2 74.1 21.6 5.9 26.5 79.8% 76.6%

The Raptors put together a 90-win season in spite of prolonged absences from Chris Bosh and Lamar Odom – the team’s first two picks. GM Julian Cone worked the waiver wire hard all season, ultimately yielding two of the team’s six starters and acquired a struggling Stephon Marbury from (Seattle GM) the Donald in mid December – one of three trades the Raps completed this season. Cone certainly deserves an A+ for effort!

No amount of hustle is going to get him out of this schedule predicament however. Not only does Toronto give up four games to Washington during the course of the week, the Raptors franchise player, Chris Bosh, plays half as many as his star counterpart Gilbert Arenas.

As a result, the Raps won’t even compete in two of the eight categories. That goes up to four if Odom’s surprise return goes awry. But if they can somehow scrap for four wins (Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, 3-Pointers, FG% and FT% - all figure to be highly contested), their regular season record will carry them into the second round.

Should they get past Toronto, James Anderson’s Wizards’ fortuitous playoff schedule continues – his superstar guard has four games scheduled in each and every playoff week. But if Arenas falters, so will the team’s championship aspirations.

The Pick: Wizards 5-3

Indiana Pacers (4) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (5)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Pacers (21): Sergio Rodriguez (4), Manu Ginobili (3), Luol Deng (3), Mike Dunleavy (4) Bostjan Nachbar (3), Jermaine O’Neal (4)

Bobcats (20): Leandro Barbosa (3), Gerald Green (3), Andre Iguodala (3), Gerald Wallace (4), Danny Granger (4), Amare Stoudemire (3)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
IND -2 306.7 110.9 55.0 17.3 14.9 16.2 48.4% 79.8%
CHA - 6 367.1 120.1 65.4 22.0 10.9 21.0 47.1% 80.6%

It is a testament to Indiana’s depth this season that even after the crushing loss of Joe Johnson, they still field a competitive team. The unluckiest team in the PFC looks to continue its streak in the playoffs, where it opens against a Bobcats squad that could realistically take every single category. To make matters worse, they face the very real possibility of playing without Jermaine O’Neal. Ouch!

Should Jerald Yearous’ Pacers lose the central division crown to Detroit however, they would likely match-up against the Wade-less Heat, against whom they would be an overwhelming favorite. Losing the Central, securing the 8th seed in the eastern conference and getting JO to play in all four first round games would be a dose of good fortune unlike anything the franchise has seen all season. It may also prompt a Jon Loomer investigation.

Brian Hanson’s Bobcats, on the other hand, should coast through the first round whether they face the Pacers or Pistons. Amare Stoudemire, Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa and a resurgent Gerald Wallace form a well-rounded core that keeps Charlotte competitive in all eight categories. Very few PFC teams can keep up with their formidable scoring, making them a team to watch in the playoffs.

The Pick: Bobcats 6-2

PFC Western Conference – First Round

Portland Trail Blazers (1) vs. Sacramento Kings (8)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Trail Blazers (21): Deron Williams (3), Jamaal Tinsley (4), Tracy McGrady (3), Travis Outlaw (4), Zach Randolph (4), Cliff Robinson (3)

Kings (22): Mike Bibby (4), Rajon Rondo (3), Josh Smith (4), Donyell Marshall (4), James Jones (3), Tyson Chandler (4)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
POR -3 292.6 88.9 93.7 17.4 8.1 17.9 42.8% 75.3%
SAC -5 259.4 144 48.2 17.6 25.8 22.8 46.0% 70.5%

It is conceivable that Ben Swets’ Kings – after barely squeezing into the playoff picture – could play David to Tom’s mighty Portland Goliath. Without Emeka Okafor to counteract the surging Tyson Chandler, the Blazers will struggle to compete with the Kings in both rebounds and blocks. And thanks to the ball hoggery of Tracy McGrady and Zach Randolph, the team has effectively punted FG percentage all season. Right off the bat, that’s three cats that lean heavily towards the Kings.

With assists and points firmly in Trailblazer territory, this game should come down to three stats: Steals, 3-Pointers and Free Throws. Should Sacramento win one and tie another, they will have truly earned their spot in the second round, not to mention the sweet satisfaction of taking out the top seed.

Okafor’s strained right calf remains an open ended issue. With the NBA Bobcats lottery bound, you’d have to question the wisdom of bringing the injury prone center back too soon. But in the event that he does return (and Tom is prescient enough to start him), the Blazers are still not assured victory.

Projected results with Emeka Okafor:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
POR - 4 339.2 141.2 95.1 22.0 16.2 16.3 45.3% 72.7%
SAC - 4 259.4 144 48.2 17.6 25.8 22.8 46.0% 70.5%

Portland would be much more competitive in rebounds and FG% though, and the Kings would need another Herculean effort from Chandler to secure the win.

The Pick: Portland 4-4

Dallas Mavericks (2) vs. Houston Rockets (7)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Mavericks (20): Baron Davis (3), TJ Ford (2), Matt Carroll (4), Kyle Korver (3), Dirk Nowitzki (4), Andris Biedrins (4)

Rockets (18): Jameer Nelson (2), Damien Wilkins (3), Shane Battier (3), Rasheed Wallace (4), Yao Ming (3), Kurt Thomas (3)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
DAL - 8 330.9 127.8 70.1 24.3 15.8 23.9 50.3% 85.7%
HOU - 0 185.2 97.4 33.3 15.4 13.9 17.1 39.7% 85.0%

Not only do Zdenko Vranjes’ Mavericks have a better schedule, they field a substantially better team.

Yao might finally be back and playing large (witness the 37 he dropped on the Magic last Sunday), but Dirk is arguably the PFC player of the year. His incredible shooting touch (50 percent from the field / 90 percent from the free throw line) and voluminous shot attempts give the PFC Mavs a virtual lock in the percentage categories every week.

In fact, the moribund Rockets are the only playoff team in the PFC that can compete with Dallas at the line. But even if the stars play to a draw, and Yao hits every single shot he takes this week, the teams’ supporting casts are still light years apart. Kurt Thomas? Damien Wilkins!? Sorry Daniel, that’s downright sad. You want depth? Check out Baron Davis, T.J. Ford, Andris Biedrins and Kyle Korver, who make substantial contributions in a slew of categories. Unless Dirk decides to take the week off, this opening round series will be a rout.

With the Blazers and Heat ailing, Dallas becomes the heavy favorite to win it all.

The Pick: Dallas 7-1

Utah Jazz (3) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (6)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Jazz (20): Jason Kidd (3), JR Smith (4), Ricky Davis (4), Carlos Boozer (3), Nene Hilario (4), Jorge Garbajosa (2)

Timberwolves (23): Mike James (4), Larry Hughes (4), Rudy Gay (3), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (4), Kevin Garnett (4), Jeff Foster (4)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
UTA -5 273.0 118.7 73.6 20.2 5.1 23.9 48.4% 73.2%
MIN -3 285.8 144.4 56.1 19.3 14.3 12.3 44.7% 72.7%

With a PFC leading 23 games scheduled for the first week of the playoffs, Minnesota is arguably the worst draw of the opening round. Christopher Anderson’s Timberwolves may only be 73-76 on the season, but they are survivors of the Northwest’s grueling interdivision match-ups (a scheduling quirk that the heralded Southeast never endured) and are much better than their record indicates. Just ask the Donald. His SuperSonics currently sit at the bottom of the division, four games out of the playoffs – despite a 55-52 record against the rest of the league.

Every NW match-up this season was a slugfest and this one projects to be no different. The Wolves are heavily favored to win Rebounds and Blocks while the Jazz should easily take 3-Pointers, Assists and FG%. That leaves the two squads battling for the three remaining categories, all of which project to be tight. Waiwei Wang’s Jazz earned the tie breaker with an 87-62 record, and only needs to take one of three to advance.

The Pick: Utah 4-4

Phoenix Suns (4) vs. Denver Nuggets (5)

Projected Line-ups / Games

Suns (17): Earl Watson (3), Kobe Bryant (3), Quentin Richardson (3), Hedo Turkoglu (2), Boris Diaw (3), Juwan Howard (3)

Nuggets (19): Tony Parker (3), Monta Ellis (3), Carmelo Anthony (4), Al Jefferson (3), Ben Wallace (3), Andrew Bynum (3)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
DEN - 6 308.3 135.9 63.3 20.7 18.4 3.0 49.0% 72.6%
PHO - 2 225.5 82 60.2 15.0 4.9 17.5 43.4% 83.8%

My very own Denver Nuggets appear to match-up extremely well with Eric Carmichael’s Phoenix Suns. With clear advantages in Points, Rebounds, Blocks and FG percentage - as well as the season record tiebreaker – this should be an easy win.

Sadly, in this the final week of the season, the Nuggets are playing the Loomer-drafted train wreck better known as the PFC Knicks. Should my Nuggets sweep – and they just might – they will likely pass the Jazz for the third seed and with it, earn a much tougher opponent in NW division rival Timberwolves.

The Pick: Denver 5-3

With playoff seeding still in play and huge variances from projected stats likely, anything can happen in the first round, but assuming it remotely resembles the results above, here is how the remainder of our speculative PFC postseason would play out.

Eastern Conference - Second Round

Atlanta Hawks (2) vs. Washington Wizards (6)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
ATL -2 263.0 109.1 63.5 18.1 17.6 11.1 44.1% 76.9%
WAS - 6 334.1 83.9 75.3 21.8 5.7 28.2 45.1% 81.1%

They have a similar number of games scheduled in the second round, but the Wizards are slightly better than Hawks in six of the eight categories.

The Pick: Washington 5-3

Charlotte Bobcats (5) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
CHA - 6 401.2 129.5 70.4 23.4 11.9 25.3 47.2% 81.5%
DET - 2 342.9 118.7 44.6 14.4 13 23.8 51.6% 66.0%

The Bobcats are a force. Top of the class in points scored and very near the top in rebounds, steals, 3-Pointers and FT%.

The Pick: Charlotte 6-2

Eastern Conference Championship

Charlotte Bobcats (5) vs. Washington Wizards (6)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
CHA - 7 397.0 129.7 70.9 23.6 11.8 23.6 47.7% 80.9%
WAS - 1 303.5 84.1 67.2 20.1 5.1 24.2 44.8% 80.0%

The Bobcats continue their playoff dominance.

The Pick: Charlotte 6-2

Western Conference - Second Round

Dallas Mavericks (2) vs. Utah Jazz (3)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
UTA - 1 279.1 130.4 78.9 23.7 8.0 17.1 48.2% 73.2%
DAL -7 328.7 118.8 82.1 25.4 14.3 22.2 49.2% 86.6%

Utah can keep up with the Mavs in Assists, Steals and FG%, but even if they take all three, Dallas owns the tiebreaker.

The Pick: Dallas 6-2

Portland Trail Blazers (1) vs. Denver Nuggets (5)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
POR - 3 331.9 97.3 110.1 22.1 6.2 25.2 43.3% 75.6%
DEN - 5 347.9 163.4 72.5 24 22.5 3.1 49.0% 71.6%

At least on paper my Nuggets can finally get their revenge for an early season humiliation at the hands of the Blazers. But the Nuggets must take all five categories they are favored in to overcome the tie-breaker. Emeka’s strained calf could be the deciding factor.

The Pick: Denver 5-3

Western Conference Championship

Dallas Mavericks (2) vs. Denver Nuggets (5)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
DAL - 5 317.6 113.2 78.6 25.3 13.2 23.2 48.7% 86.4%
DEN - 3 316.4 142 64.7 21 19.6 3.1 49.2% 72.6%

Projections be damned, everybody knows that three weeks from now Baron Davis will be back on the injured reserve!

The Pick: Denver 5-3

PFC Championship

Charlotte Bobcats (5) vs. Denver Nuggets (5)

Projected Results:

Team Points Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
CHA - 3 376.6 121.6 70.0 22.4 11.2 22.4 46.5% 81.1%
DEN - 350.3 158.1 71.5 23.1 21.3 3.1 49.3% 72.7%

The final week of the playoffs is not as favorable to the Bobcats. If the PFC championship does indeed come down to this battle of five seeds – and everyone remains healthy – it will be decided by two categories: Steals and Assists.

Pending the last week of the regular season, the Bobcats own the tie breaker. (Just imagine if they still had a healthy David Lee!)

PFC Champion: Charlotte 4-4

Will Nick Collison be able to muster up a good enough performance to carry the Sixers?
(Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images)

PFC Quick Facts
The PFC is a global fantasy basketball competition with 30 of the world's best players vying for the title.
More than 9,000 people worldwide applied for the opportunity to compete.
Each participant is the fantasy general manager for an NBA team. Each GM picked a franchise player from their assigned team and built their roster - with players from any other NBA team - from there.
Every general manager has selected eight players for their fantasy squad.
Participants run the risk of losing their spot in the competition should they underperform. The public votes who will lose their job, and another top applicant will take over as a new GM.
For more in-depth information on the PFC, read here.

Overall Records

Eastern Conference

Indiana Pacers 80 68 4
Detroit Pistons 79 70 3
Cleveland Cavaliers 75 74 3
Milwaukee Bucks 74 76 2
Chicago Bulls 54 92 6

Toronto Raptors 90 61 1
Philadelphia 76ers 80 66 6
Boston Celtics 76 73 3
New Jersey Nets 62 84 6
New York Knicks 34 114 4

Miami Heat 99 50 3
Atlanta Hawks 91 59 2
Charlotte Bobcats 89 60 3
Washington Wizards 84 68 0
Orlando Magic 78 70 4

Western Conference

Portland Trailblazers 97 50 5
Utah Jazz 87 62 3
Denver Nuggets 85 63 4
Minnesota Timberwolves 73 76 3
Seattle SuperSonics 65 82 5

Phoenix Suns 73 76 3
Sacramento Kings 69 78 5
Golden State Warriors 65 83 4
Los Angeles Lakers 62 86 4
Los Angeles Clippers 59 89 4

Dallas Mavericks 92 56 4
Houston Rockets 71 76 5
San Antonio Spurs 63 86 3
Memphis Grizzlies 61 88 3
New Orleans/OK Hornets 58 89 5