NBA Playoff Picture: The Race To The Playoffs
The NBA playoff race is in full swing, as teams have fewer than 20 games left to prove that they are worthy of getting in. With the season more than three-quarters of the way done, there are some intriguing storylines worth keeping an eye on going into the home stretch of the regular season. These are the three most interesting happenings in the playoff chase going into this week’s action.
Eastern Conference Power Shift
For the majority of this NBA season, the Boston Celtics have been the class of the Eastern Conference. That has recently changed, however, as the Milwaukee Bucks have taken over the top spot in the conference.
Behind an historic winning streak, Milwaukee is looking more and more like the team that won the championship just a couple of years ago, as they look to peak heading into the playoffs.
Milwaukee recently had a 16-game winning streak come to an end, but not before they took the top spot in the East from the Celtics. The decision by the Bucks to have Khris Middleton come off the bench has paid dividends despite being controversial initially. This Bucks team looks more dangerous than it ever has, which could mean bad news for Boston and the rest of the league.
Kings Climbing Out West
In the Western Conference, the most incredible ongoing storyline has been the play of the Sacramento Kings. They enter this week in third place in the Western Conference, and could very well move into the second spot by the time the week is over. With the Memphis Grizzlies struggling on and off the court lately, Sacramento could move into the number two position out West sooner rather than later.
What has been so much fun about the Kings is that their roster is filled with players who were not prioritized elsewhere. Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis, and Malik Monk were not wanted by their original teams, and the same can be said about head coach Mike Brown.
But those players have been resilient in their careers, and they embody what this Kings team is all about, which has made them a legitimate title contender in 2023.
Play-In Races Heating Up
Of course, the race to simply get into the play-in tournament has been fascinating in both conferences. In the East, the Raptors, Wizards, and Hawks enter this week holding the final three play-in spots. The Chicago Bulls are currently on the outside looking in, which is a huge surprise given how they played as a team a season ago, as the Bulls have work to do if they want to avoid a huge embarrassment this season.
In the Western Conference, 2.5 games separate the seventh-place Dallas Mavericks and 13th-place Thunder. In the middle of those teams are current play-in placeholders the Clippers, Blazers, and Jazz.
But the Lakers and Pelicnas cannot be counted out as they look to make up the ground they need to get themselves into the tournament.
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