With the NBA Playoffs starting on Saturday, teams are still clinching playoff spots. Golden State find themselves with the second seed in the West, while Cleveland has managed fourth in the East. This season the title is up for grabs. With the way teams are playing it can go in any direction, and those sleeper teams in the bottom four of each conference aren’t exactly a cake walk.
We’ll look at the top four in the east today, and the bottom four tomorrow.
Toronto Raptors #1:
The Raptors never fail to show up in the regular season, but it often shuts down come playoff time. This year, the Raptors are on a mission, and there’s been no slowing down. With Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan playing a combined 66.1 minutes a game, the duo has complete control of this franchise. The Raptors are a good example of adjusting to a roster. This season alone they’ve used their bench 45% more than last season, part of the reason why they’re the top seed. If you can make Fred Van Vleet stand out that says it all
Boston Celtics #2:
Don’t count the Celtics out! They have multiple options to fall back on. With Irving out for the season and Hayward looking questionable for a possible return, Tatum and Brown will have to lead Boston this postseason. Luckily for them, the C’s found a gem in Terry Rozier. Ever since Rozier saw more minutes come his way, he’s outperformed most starting guards in the league, even adding a triple-double to his resume. The Greg Monroe signing is also huge and provides more of a veteran presence down low which Boston lacked in the beginning of the season. Yes, injuries suck, but Boston still looks strong.
Philadelphia 76ers #3:
Breaking history each and everyday, Philadelphia is not a familiar name when looking at playoff spots. To be honest, I thought they would’ve landed somewhere in seeds 6-8, but without Embiid they haven’t missed a step. Ben Simmons will ultimately be the X-factor come the postseason. Him playing well and at the highest level possible opens up a lot offensively for the club. JJ Reddick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and company all play better when Simmons is on the floor. The only problem that persists is how to adjust when Simmons goes to the bench.
Cleveland Cavaliers #4:
I haven’t heard much of the Cavs lately. LeBron and company have struggled for a good chunk of the season, and with a deep roster change, they’ve performed worse (15-10) after the All-Star break. Not playing as a top two seed will only light a fire under James, and I won’t be surprised to find them back in the Conference Finals competing for another shot at the title. The new line-up of Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, Kevin Love, and James alone will have an impact on their playoff push.
More playoff previews to come during this week, so please follow me to stay up to date!