The NBA Playoff Race is Heating Up

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets

 

 

We are about one month away from the NBA Playoffs. Brooklyn has been controlling the East with their new star players. The Lakers still are the favorite in the West but have been struggling without LeBron and Anthony Davis. We’ll take a look at the best teams fighting in the NBA playoff race. 

 

Eastern Conference

1.) Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are currently 36-16 and 8-2 in their last 10 games. Brooklyn was the favorite to win the East at the beginning of the season. After the addition of James Harden, the Nets have become the favorites to win the Finals. Their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving are impossible to defend. Each of the three players can take any defender off the dribble, knock down shots from anywhere, and can make the extra pass. Along with their big three, the Nets have plenty of other assets. Brooklyn has also added Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge this season. Joe Harris and Jeff Green can make a very big impact in any game. As long as this team can stay healthy, expect to see them in the Finals.

2.) Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia is sitting at 35-16 this season and has won 7 of their last 10 games. The 76ers are used to making playoff pushes in their last couple of NBA seasons but have not been able to make a deep playoff push. This is their best chance. Joel Embiid was having an MVP-level season before his injury. Ben Simmons has had another good season but is still struggling with his shooting. When they are both on the floor, Philadelphia is scary. Along with Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and Danny Green, the 76ers have a good chance to give Brooklyn a tough test.

3.) Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have had another good season even without Giannis in MVP contention. Milwaukee is currently sitting at 32-19 but has lost their last two games. After last year’s surprising playoff exit, Giannis and the Bucks are looking to make a statement. This team has more than just Giannis though. Jrue Holiday is one of the most solid all-around point guards in the NBA. Khris Middleton can score on anyone. Brook Lopez is a great rebounder. Milwaukee has been on the edge of making deep playoff runs for the past couple of years but has been unable to finish it off.

Western Conference

1.) Utah Jazz

The Jazz have been a wrecking ball this year. Currently sitting at 38-13, Utah has the best record in the league. The combination of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert has been impossible to stop. The Jazz play great team basketball and are the hottest team in the NBA right now. Even though they are first in Western Conference right now, they may have some playoff struggles. The Lakers are currently sitting at 5th in the West but have been dealing with injuries all season. Anthony Davis has been out since the All-Star break and now LeBron is out too. Once they both return and are healthy, they’ll be the conference favorite. Utah has had a good season so far but needs to prepare for a tough test with the Lakers.

2.) Phoenix Suns

The Suns are finally headed in the right direction. After barely missing out on the playoffs last season, Phoenix has cruised to a 36-15 record this season. With Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the Suns may have the best backcourt combination in the NBA. The West is filled with good guards though, which could cause Phoenix to struggle. Deandre Ayton has had a decent career so far but needs to make a big impact this season for the Suns to make a run in the playoffs. Phoenix is the most interesting team to watch in this NBA playoff race. 

3.) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are right around where everyone thought they would be. Kawhi Leonard is still one of the best players in the league. Paul George can beat anyone 1-on-1. Patrick Beverly can lock down any other guard. Honestly, the Clippers have the best chance to put up a fight with the Lakers. We almost saw the battle of L.A. in the playoffs last year until the Clippers were sent packing by the Denver Nuggets. Don’t be surprised if we finally get to see it this year.

As we come into the last month of the regular season, it is time to figure out which teams are real and which teams are not. While some teams are building super teams, others are just waiting to get their best players back from injury. This last month will be very interesting as we watch how this NBA playoff race plays out.

 

NBA playoff race

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