No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 16 New Orleans Pelicans
Under the current playoff format, All-Star forward Anthony Davis and the Pelicans are on the outside of the brutal Western Conference playoff chase. But with a record of 27-26, they're 4.5 games better than current East playoff teams Miami (22-30) and Charlotte (22-30). This first-round matchup would pit MVP candidate Stephen Curry (pictured) against Davis and a young team on the rise. Golden State is 2-0 so far against New Orleans, with Davis missing the second game. The teams still play two more times.
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No. 2 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 15 Oklahoma City Thunder
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Thunder aren''t even in the Western Conference playoffs under the current format. However, finally healthy and appearing to ramp up, they're likely to move up the standings. But what an inter-conference first-round doozy this would make with the surprising, all-for-one Hawks going against Oklahoma City's superstar duo of Kevin Durant (pictured) and Russell Westbrook. Atlanta won the first regular-season meeting at home, and the teams play again next month in OKC.
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No. 3 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 14 Phoenix Suns
These two contrasting teams have finished their season series with the burly, defensive-minded Grizzlies beating the run-and-gun Suns in all three games, although it wasn't easy. Memphis won in double overtime at home last month, and Grizzlies newcomer Jeff Green (pictured) completed a three-point play with five seconds to go for a 102-101 win on Feb. 2 in Phoenix. After missing the playoffs last season despite 48 wins (good enough to have tied for fourth in the East), the Suns are surely fans of this format because their grip on the No. 8 seed in the West is tenuous at best.
No. 4 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 13 Milwaukee Bucks
Jason Kidd's Bucks are one of the great surprises of the season with the 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo (pictured), aka The Greek Freak, becoming a household name. Add in point guard Brandon Knight against LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers and this would make for one intriguing interconference first-round series. The teams have already split their season series, with each winning on its home floor.
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No. 5 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 12 Cleveland Cavaliers
How about LeBron James (pictured) and the Cavs as a No. 12 seed? We'll assume the Raptors aren't fans of this playoff format considering that under the current rules they would be No. 2 in the East and set to play either Miami or Charlotte, each of which is eight games under .500. The Cavs are 2-1 against the Raps this season, but the teams haven't played since Dec. 9, when they wrapped up three games in the span of 17 days. They meet again March 4 in Toronto.
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No. 6 Houston Rockets vs. No. 11 Washington Wizards
The Wizards are currently the No. 4 seed in the East and would enjoy home-court advantage in the first round. However, their 33-21 record would be good for only eighth in the West, and in our revised playoff model, it would put them on the road in the first round as the 11th seed against the James Harden-led Rockets. Washington won by one point at Houston to in the first of two matchups this season. The teams meet again in Washington on March 29.
No. 7 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 10 Chicago Bulls
Here's another interconference matchup that would have every NBA fan drooling. The Mavs' high-powered offense going up against the Bulls' blue-collar defense, plus a revived offense with Derrick Rose back and Pau Gasol added, would make for incredible first-round drama. Chicago is another East contender hurt by this format, tumbling from the No. 3 seed in the East to No. 10 and therefore forced to start the playoffs on the road. Their season series is over, with the Bulls sweeping two close games -- one of which went into double-overtime.
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No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 9 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan (pictured) and the reigning champions would start the playoffs in sunny L.A. and would face a tough road against the Clippers' size, assuming Blake Griffin were back at full strength for the start of the postseason. The Clippers are 1-2 against the Spurs so far with L.A. getting a 20-point win Jan. 31 in San Antonio during their last meeting. If you want a preview, the teams resume the season against each other on national television Thursday in Los Angeles.