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Original Issue

Achilles' Heels

At week's end the eight teams with the best records in each
conference all had weaknesses that could be exploited in the
postseason. Here's a look at what each of them will have to
address to avoid an early-round exit from the playoffs.

--David Sabino

EASTERN CONFERENCE
SEED TEAM SHORTCOMING

1 Pacers Indiana gets outrebounded by 2.8 boards per game,
the fourth-worst margin in the league and worst among these 16
teams

2 Heat Miami is 18-13 when Alonzo Mourning's the team's
leading scorer, 11-4 when someone else sets the pace

3 Knicks Without a consistent low-post scoring threat, New
York has shot league-worst 6.1 fewer free throws a game than its
opponents

4 Hornets Get the jump on Charlotte, which was 4-17 when it
was tied or trailing at halftime

5 Raptors In rough-and-tumble East 100 points will be hard
to come by; Raptors are 18-0 when they crack triple figures,
5-19 when they don't

6 76ers Who's the No. 2 threat? Allen Iverson was the
only Sixer averaging 12 or more points; no other team is so
dependent on one player

7 Bucks Milwaukee has cashed in 64.2% of its
defensive-rebound opportunities, worst among these playoff
contenders

8 Pistons Teams shoot a league-high 47.4% against Detroit,
whose 3.20 blocks per game are fewest in NBA

WESTERN CONFERENCE
SEED TEAM SHORTCOMING

1 Trail Blazers Play them close and you have a chance:
Portland is 3-4 in games decided by three points or fewer

2 Lakers Hitting league-low 66.7% from line,
where Shaq's a disaster; guards Derek Fisher (67.9%) and Ron
Harper (69.7%) don't help

3 Spurs Portland held them to 67 points on Jan.
29, one of 12 times Spurs failed to score 90; San Antonio lost
10 of those games

4 Sonics Against losing teams Seattle is 22-3;
against teams with records of .500 or better, it's 8-16

5 Kings If opponents clamp down inside,
Sacramento has to rely on backcourt shooting of Nick Anderson
(38.3%) and Jason Williams (36.1%)

6 Jazz Starters' average age is 34.6; even in
lockout-shortened year Utah ran out of gas and shot below 40% in
six of 11 playoff games

7 Timberwolves Big deficits are a big problem; Minnesota was
making the second-fewest three-pointers per game (2.5)

8 Suns Carelessness: Four starters each have
turned the ball over at least twice per game