The NBA regular season is winding up opposed to winding down. There are less than 16 games left in the regular season and many teams are still in contention to fill the 16 available postseason spots. In the Eastern conference the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors would have to have complete meltdowns not to qualify for the postseason. Those teams fill up half of the Eastern conference playoff spots, leaving Atlanta, half gameIndiana, Detroit and Milwaukee holding on to the final four spots.
Milwaukee (who is only a game behind the Pistons) is holding onto the final spot in the East with a half games lead over Chicago and Miami. Tonight the Bucks who are on a five game winning streak pay a visit to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bulls will try to protect their home as they get a visit from the Memphis Grizzlies; both teams are looking to put an end to four game losing streaks. The funny thing about the Bucks, Bulls, and Heat is that all three teams have losing records and still have a shot at making the playoffs. The Bucks who have not won an NBA title since 1971 are led by “The Greek Freak” (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and his 23 points per game, But Milwaukee is having a difficult time winning on the road. They have won less than half of the 30 games played away from home and tonight starts their five game road trip (now is not the time the Bucks would want to be away from home).
The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat aren’t any better than Milwaukee when playing on the road. The Bulls have only won 13 of their 34 games played away from home and the Heat have only won 14 of their 35 games on foreign courts. I bring up the teams success away from home because if any one of the three make the playoffs they will not have home court advantage. That means their track records away from home could be a major indicator as to how successful each team would be in the Post Season. I think there will actually be a battle for the last four playoff spots in the East due to the fact that teams ranked 5 through 10 are only separated by five games.
In the Western Conference things are a little more interesting at the top. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have the two best records in the league. The Warriors and the Spurs have already clinched play off spots. Translation you may see stars like Warriors guard Steph Curry and San Antonio’s Kwahi Leonard getting nights off as the regular season winds down. But all is not well in the land of Oakland or in San Anton; both teams are missing big men. Golden State hopes that Kevin Durant can return from a knee injury in time for the playoffs and the Spurs are without forward LaMarcus Aldridge who is out indefinitely since March 11th due to a minor heart arrhythmia. So as the post season draws near fans in Oakland and San Antonio are hopeful for the return of their big time forwards.
Following the Warriors and Spurs are the Houston Rockets who are six games behind the leaders.Then there are the Utah Jazz who are 10 games behind the top three. The next four spots are held down by the L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets and it looks like the top five teams are locks for the post season . There is only a seven game difference between the 6th and 9th place teams. Meanwhile Denver holds down the final qualifying post season spot and is only ahead of the Portland Trailblazers by two games.That being said the battle in the West will be for that final playoff spot as Portland,theMinnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks are honing in on the Nuggets as there are only 4 games that separate all four teams.
Story Update: San Antonio Spurs Forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been cleared to return to full action and is expected to suit up Wednesday against the Portland Trailblazers.
So as I said earlier the NBA Regular season is winding up not down as teams make that last playoff push. Let me know who you think the NBA’s final four will be at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevin A Jones
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