There are sixteen playoff spots that make up the NBA post-season. Eight teams from the Eastern Conference and eight teams from the West; that being said, there are roughly twenty games left in the NBA regular season and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers are tops in the East. No one is surprised Lebron James is leading the Cavaliers attack. King James averages 25 points per game, and he has plenty of help in his court. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love provide the offensive support (Love with his 20 Points per game and Irving with his 24 points per outing).
The Cavs made moves after the February All-Star break to help bolster their roster. Obtaining sharp shooting Forward Kyle Korver a thirteen year veteran from the Atlanta Hawks and Deron Williams, an eleven-year veteran point guard as the backup to Irving. Korver shoots 45% from beyond the three-point line, and Williams averages six assists per game.
Tonight King James and his court will be on the court in Atlanta looking to protect the small lead they have over the second place Boston Celtics. The Hawks, by the way, are holding onto the fifth spot in the East just behind the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors. Atlanta is being chased by the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Detroit Pistons. All of the top eight teams in the East are only separated by 13 games which I think means the race is wide open. As a matter of fact, the difference between the first place in the East and tenth place is only 15 games.
The Western Conference race is once again led by the Golden State Warriors who have knocked down close to half of their shots from the floor. The Golden State hot shooting of guards Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the crew is near 40 percent from beyond the three-point arc. But the Warriors have to keep their eyes wide open. The second place San Antonio Spurs are on a five-game winning streak and less than four games behind the defending Western Conference champs.
Meanwhile, the Warriors just lost Forward Kevin Durant for what may be the rest of the regular season. Durant who is averaging 25 points per game hyperextended his knee in a game earlier this week and is not expected back until the post-season. But even without “KD,” the Warriors are a lock to make the playoffs, they have only lost 10 out of 60 games so far this season.
In hot pursuit of the Spurs and the Warriors are the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Denver Nuggets are all on winning streaks and hold down positions six, seven and eight. The top seven playoff spots in the West are only separated by 15 games. The Nuggets who hold down the final spot in the West are almost eight games behind the Thunder and only three games ahead of the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Portland Trailblazers. That means out West there is truly going to be a battle for the last playoff spot during the last days of the regular season.
Trevin A Jones
Follow me on Twitter: @UMTsportsreport
Note: All stats and standings references are per NBA.com as of 3/2/17