A few weeks back, I began writing about the NBA and meant to go back to it, but didn’t get the chance to do so. We are nearing the start of March Madness and right after that, you have the NBA Playoffs. Since I wrote about the Eastern Conference last month, things have tightened quite a bit.
Contenders/Pretenders: Not much has changed here for me from our top four teams. Milwaukee has been dealt some difficult blows with losing Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic to injuries, which hurts their depth. While they should get both players back in the timeframe they should still be in the playoffs, the issue becomes knocking off rust and integrating them back into the flow of their team, which will be more difficult than anticipated. The only change for me here is that the 76ers are now my favorite team to make it out of the East. This team is legit with their starting five and the bench they have. Toronto is knocking on their door though, and I could easily see either of those two teams, but right now I think the 76ers are the ones making it out of the East.
Cellar-Dwellers: Obviously nothing has changed here.
On the Bubble: Since my last post, the Nets and Pistons have strengthened their position and should be in the Playoffs when they begin next month. The remaining teams then would be the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and the Washington Wizards. While Charlotte and Washington are still in the hunt, in reality, they’re not. The Hornets have been in a tail spin since last month when they were technically in the playoffs and just do not have the firepower to keep their heads afloat. Meanwhile, the fact the Wizards are still in the race is a miracle after the horrenouds start to the season. This is a testament to how much Bradley Beal has exploded since John Wall went down with injury. That leaves the Heat and Magic.
For all intents and purposes, the Magic should be leading the charge here as they have been playing some of the best basketball since February 1 and had the best record in the month of February. Their issue is they usually find themselves beating the teams they shouldn’t be able to beat (Indiana, Toronto, Milwaukee) while losing to teams they should be able to beat easily (New York, Memphis, Cleveland). That tends to be their issue. Based on that thinking, they should go 6-4 over their last ten games, giving them a 40-42 record to end the season. There’s not telling what they will do.
Miami is not a team I love, one because of my deep hatred of them, two because of the makeup of their team. This is a team with a bunch of pieces that would be great on other teams as role players, but an entire team of them doesn’t make much sense to them. Then again, they seem to win when they need to. Hassan Whiteside is their best player and he’s coming off the bench right now. The Dwayne Wade retirement tour seems to have given the team a boost to get into the playoffs. The difficult part is there schedule down the stretch. As I write this, they’re playing the Spurs (and winning by 15). After this, they still have Milwaukee, Boston (twice), Toronto, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.
I’m definitely biased, but I definitely think Orlando should make the playoffs and will.