Inside view of the 2012 NBA Playoff Race...

With a month left until the NBA playoffs we take a look at the top five teams that have a chance to make a significant impact towards the NBA Finals. Plus a look at our true NBA playoff dark horse.

1.) San Antonio Spurs: Overall San Antonio has the coaching, talent and youthfulness to make a deep playoff run. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Stephen Jackson, De Juan Blair, Kawhli Leonard, and Danny Green are just a few names who lead Greg Popovich's talent latent team.

Problem: Defense is not the same defense fans are accustomed to in San Antonio. Greg Popovich and the Spurs are relying more on their offense this season versus their defense and Duncan is entering his twilight years.

2.) Miami Heat: How can you deny LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami Heat have been the odd on favorites to win the NBA Finals since losing an heart breaker last season in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron James is the heavy favorite to win league MVP posting some of the best all around numbers in league history w/ 28 pts, 8 rebs, 7 ast, 2 stls and 1 block . Miami Heat's BIG 3 has been exciting to watch this season averaging over 100 pts.

Problem: Defensively the Miami Heat are vulnerable against larger more aggressive teams in the post. Joel Anthony has become an offensive liability. The addition of Ronnie Turiaf should help boaster the paint for the Miami Heat but the team currently has no answer in the middle.

3.) Oklahoma City Thunder: Should probably be ranked #2 on this list if Kevin Durant and company played in the Eastern Conference they would be odd on favorites to represent the conference. Russell Westbrook receives a lot of unwarranted attention for his play but OKC coaching staff and fans love the point guard. Sixth man of the year James Harden is playing like an all star averaging 16 pts, 4 rebs and 3 ast.

Problem: Turnovers have been an Achilles heel for the Thunder 15.3% of their possessions end in turnovers which is hurting their assists as well. A team with the likes Westbrook should not fail in assists and turnovers.

4.)  Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng lead a balanced attack on both offense and defense for Da Bulls!.  Boozer who was struggling last season has rebounded and has become a vocal leader for the Chicago Bulls. Chicago's defense is tops in the NBA allowing only 89.1 pts per contest and the Bulls control the defensive and offensive glass with a combined total of 55 rebs per game. Bulls regular season record of 40-11 is #1 in the NBA.

Problem: Derrick Rose 2010-2011 NBA MVP has been hampered by a bad groin injury. While the Bulls have managed to stay consistent without Rose during the season the playoffs are a different ball game. The Bulls playoff potential rest on the health of Rose.

5.) Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe, Kobe and more Kobe his leading the NBA in scoring 28.9 pts per game.. Unfortunately The Lakers have been shaky all year but yet manage to be excellent at Staples Center where they are 20-4. Los Angeles traded away two mainstays in Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom changing the landscape of the basketball team. The addition of Ramon Sessions should help at the point guard position, finally a player that can handle the ball outside of the hands of Kobe Bryant. Bynum has been playing at an All Star level and his confidence in the post has increased.

Problem: Kobe, Kobe and more Kobe. Sometimes his offensive struggles can be harmful to the flow of the game which is why Mike Brown pulled the chair on him recently against the Memphis Grizzlies. Kobe has to trust his teammates more. The Lakers are terrible on the road this season playing below .500 away from Staples.

Dark Horse:

Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic: Orlando Magic dark horse but possibly not daring enough the Indiana Pacers on the other hand represent everything a dark horse should be young, athletic and no one believes them yet.

Dark Horse checklist:
Possible NBA Superstar- Danny Granger check.
Point Guard: Darren Collison check.
Inside outside game: Collison, Roy Hibbert and David West check.
Bench: Sixth Man George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough check mate...

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