With the NBA Finals quickly approaching, the competition and rivalry between teams are certainly on a rise. The end of the regular season is only a few days away, and many of the teams are still pushing for their spot in the playoffs. As is the case every term, there are a few teams to keep your eye on as we approach the playoff season.
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks have usurped the Boston Celtics, who were leading all chasers since the beginning of the season. Although the 41-point defeat from last Thursday’s game against the Celtics may have interrupted their run, the Bucks are eager to restart their win streak. They currently hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference and previously boasted a record of 15-5 over their last 20 games.
The Bucks are followed closely by their season rivals, the Celtics, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers. Together they form the Big 3 teams in the East. After their last ten games, the Celtics hold a 7-3 record, inclusive of their recent victory over Milwaukee. The team hasn’t secured the title since 2008 and is hopeful of bringing the coveted Larry O’Brien Championship trophy home this June.
The 76ers are still in prime fighting form though they are lagging behind Boston with a 5-5 record from the last ten games. They seem to have their work cut out for them, seeing as their last championship was 40 years ago. However, this team is no stranger to playoff season, as they’re regulars therein. Where the Eastern Conference is concerned, these three teams are the most likely to take home the trophy, and many basketball fans are sure to make use of sports betting apps to follow the NBA up close as the season progresses.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks are the next in line in the East, though the gulf left in the wake of the conference leaders may prove challenging to cross. The Brooklyn Nets, though having traded both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, have still managed to advance up the board. Their roster may prove to be quite a force to be reckoned with come the postseason.
The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors bring up the rear in seventh and eighth respectively. Both have acquired key players such as Kevin Love and Jakob Poeltl and are worthy contestants for the tool.
Towards the Western, the Denver Nuggets have led the charge for the better part of the season, with the Memphis Grizzlies in close pursuit. The Nuggets will need to perform exceptionally well in their upcoming games in the hopes of widening the gap to second place. The Grizzlies have already proven that they belong. And although there have been a few setbacks, they boast a record of 8-2 from the last ten games.
The Sacramento Kings have also been defying all odds, sitting quite comfortably at third in the conference standings. This is no small feat, as they haven’t made the playoff since 2006, and their last championship came in 1951. Their improvement this season certainly earned them some well-deserved recognition and respect and may be a sign of great things to come.
The Phoenix Suns are currently blazing their way up the board thanks to their recent Durant addition. Coupled with their retaining of DeAndre Ayton, this team is one to follow as the business end of the season approaches. Despite their position in the West, the Suns are decidedly the fan-favorite in the conference.
The Los Angeles Lakers have managed a late run in the absence of LeBron James that could see them even avoid the play-in, considering they were completely out of the playoff picture a few weeks ago. LeBron’s return is expected to push them even further, and his presence will be invaluable during the championship games.
Teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Clippers deserve an honorable mention. Initially, the former was a favorite, beginning the season fresh off a championship title, but their performances have wavered as of late, leaving them in quite a worrying position. The Mavericks were also able to land Irving, and their rivals the Los Angeles Clippers added many notable names to their roster, making the West more of a contender for the title.