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Saturday, May 18, 2024

4 NBA playoff races that can decide postseason image in last week of season

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The NBA had a reasonably good weekend. A brand new CBA was agreed to between the NBPA and the Governors, guaranteeing labor peace through a new television rights deal and for almost the rest of this decade. That must be celebrated – strikes and lockouts can stymie momentum, particularly for a league that could be very a lot within the operating to be America’s clear No. 2 skilled sport (behind the NFL, who isn’t getting caught any time quickly).

That’s, in the event that they aren’t already there.

However one more reason the league had an exquisite Friday by way of Sunday is the madness that’s the standings – particularly within the Western Convention – has been saved at a degree 10 loopy for a sustained period of time. The play-in match, enabling groups within the hunt for not simply the top-8 however top-10 seeds within the NBA Playoffs, has had the specified have an effect on that was the purpose when the plan was carried out a number of years in the past.

Make the conclusion of the league’s trudge of a daily season extra significant.

From the highest of each conferences to the No. 10 seed race, there are extra groups with one thing to play for than ever earlier than. Within the Western Convention, solely three of the 15 groups are eradicated from the postseason – the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston Rockets. The Jap Convention is a little more clear – the top-10 are the top-10, greater than seemingly – however the place the groups find yourself is fairly up within the air virtually throughout the board.

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Jockeying for place can be the secret for two-thirds of the NBA in these last days. As a substitute of chasing lottery odds, extra groups than ever earlier than are considering competing for a shot at a postseason subject that feels extra wide-open than it has been in a while.

Listed below are among the largest storylines to observe within the subsequent a number of days across the NBA.

Will the Dallas Mavericks truly miss the Play-In?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports activities

When the Dallas Mavericks made their commerce for Kyrie Irving, certainly this isn’t what that they had in thoughts. However because the NBA’s Commerce Deadline, the Mavericks have regarded extra like an NBA Draft Lottery squad than they’ve a playoff workforce. And because of their 7-13 report from February ninth on, that’s precisely the place Dallas is heading as of now.

The NBA Draft Lottery. With Luka Doncic on the roster.

Now context issues. Kyrie and Luka each have missed prolonged intervals of time for a wide range of causes. However with a number of key position gamers shipped out within the Irving deal, Dallas has missed the depth and flexibility that when was extra prevalent of their rotations. Mix that with the teaching misadventures of Jason Kidd, and there are a number of annoyed Mavericks followers.

Luka Doncic isn’t going wherever. However Kyrie Irving can be a free agent this summer season. If the Mavericks gave up belongings and roster depth simply to let Kyrie stroll and frustrate doubtlessly the subsequent LeBron James, this transaction might wind up being one of many largest blunders in Dallas historical past.

Maybe it already is?

The race for the highest seeds

In each the Jap and Western Conferences, there’s various levels of drama round who would be the top-three seeds within the playoffs. The Denver Nuggets out west are a bit extra solidified of their placement atop the standings. The Memphis Grizzlies might theoretically catch them nonetheless for the No. 1 seed, however given how inconsistent Memphis has been the final month it appears extra seemingly than Sacramento catches the Grizzlies for No. 2 than Memphis will get No. 1 from Denver.

And because the Kings simply misplaced to the Spurs…perhaps the top-3 out west is about in any case.

Within the Jap Convention, issues are a bit tighter. The Milwaukee Bucks are within the pole place for the No. 1 seed, however the Boston Celtics are inside shouting distance of the highest spot. Whereas it’s seemingly not a precedence for Boston, at the very least between their roster and expertise the probability of catching Milwaukee appears extra seemingly.

Likelihood is issues keep precisely as they’re. However there’s nonetheless potential for motion late within the season.

The place will the Lakers land?

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports activities

As of this writing, the Los Angeles Lakers are firmly within the play-in combine. The present No. 7 seed within the Western Convention would host the New Orleans Pelicans within the play-in’s 7-8 match-up (Anthony Davis in opposition to his {old} workforce? Sure please) for the fitting to face (seemingly) the Memphis Grizzlies within the first spherical of the NBA Playoffs. However past the place the Lakers at the moment are is the truth that they, greater than every other workforce, personify simply how wild this season’s last week might be.

Say the Lakers get scorching. They’re inside two video games of the No. 5 seed out west, that means they may keep away from the play-in fully and tackle the Phoenix Suns in what can be a reasonably high-profile first spherical collection. However between two Utah Jazz video games, a showdown with the Suns and a “street” recreation in opposition to the Clippers, there’s a chance the Lakers lose greater than they win and will slide to the No. 9 or No. 10 seed.

Inside one week, LeBron’s Lakers might be both a top-5 workforce within the Western Convention or on the verge of lacking the postseason fully. Extra seemingly than not, L.A. stays proper round the place they’re. However the variance from an evening to nighttime/recreation to recreation foundation is noteworthy.

The Golden State Warriors loom giant

Don’t look now, however the defending NBA champions appear to have righted the ship. Sunday evening had Steph Curry’s squad in a aggressive showdown with the No. 1 seeded Denver Nuggets (though MVP candidate Nikola Jokic didn’t play) in Denver, that means the Warriors had a powerful exhibiting on the street.

That is one thing they haven’t finished all season. And to be able to do one thing no NBA Finals contender has ever finished – have such a poor street report and but nonetheless being the title combine – they have to reply these questions as a lot as potential.

Will groups attempt to keep away from a 1st spherical matchup with the Warriors? Time will inform. In all probability, squads just like the Grizzlies and Kings are way more involved with their very own well being and relaxation than the place an opposing workforce could also be. However whereas Memphis might embrace their rivalry with the Warriors, and the Kings are thrilled to only be within the playoffs for the primary time in over a decade, should you gave both franchise reality serum they’d seemingly admit they’d reasonably not should put Curry and the Golden State crew out till completely essential.

The Warriors will more than likely be within the playoffs – not the play-in. However who will they face within the first spherical? That reply will dictate the path of the postseason.


There’s a lot to play for, even now as a number of squads make their trip plans. Playoff seeding. Load administration/minute restrictions. Merely getting a spot on the play-in. All of it provides as much as what must be a captivating week of basketball within the NBA.

The weekend was good for basketball followers. And issues ought to proceed to get higher.



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