Postseason sleeper candidates

NBA scouts: Knicks, Pacers, Grizzlies and Clips could go on playoff runs

Originally Published: April 24, 2012
By Chris Broussard | ESPN Insider
KnicksDebby Wong/US PresswireThe Knicks could be a tough out this postseason, especially for the Bulls.

We head into this postseason with five legitimate title contenders -- the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers in the West. If any other team reaches the Finals, or even the conference finals, it will be a surprise. So which teams have the best chance of surprising one or more of the elite?

To get our answer, we turned to two NBA scouts -- guys with years of experience scouting teams around the league. While I would have picked Boston and New York as my prime spoiler candidates, our Eastern scout instead went with Indiana and New York. Out West, our scout agreed with my choices of Memphis and the Clippers as the most likely clubs to knock off a contender.

Here are the scouts' opinions:

Eastern Conference

New York Knicks
East scout: "They've got a really talented roster. Their record is a head-scratcher because I think they have as much talent as Chicago, if not more. Carmelo Anthony has been playing great recently, they've got a 3-point specialist in Steve Novak, and J.R. Smith can either win you a game or lose you a game every time out. If Baron Davis or Mike Bibby can get healthy or play halfway to their old abilities, this is a dangerous team.