Wrapping up the 2018 NBA season is total insanity, particularly in the Western Conference.
The Rockets, Warriors, Trail Blazers, and the Jazz have all locked up the 1-4 seeds, but the rest of the playoff bracket is still to be determined with two games left in the season. The Pelicans, Spurs, Thunder, and Timberwolves all currently sit at the 5-8 seeds, but the Nuggets, sitting at the nine seed, still have a great chance to get into the playoffs.
The reason for all the uncertainty is that seeds 5-9 are all separated by only one game. The Pelicans, currently sitting at five, could potentially miss the playoffs if they were to lose their last two games. It will be a very interesting finish to the regular season, which will build up to a very exciting playoffs.
The Eastern Conference doesn’t have as many crazy scenarios.
The top eight teams in the East have all clinched playoff spots: Raptors, Celtics, 76ers, Cavaliers, Pacers, Heat, Bucks, and Wizards, are the standings as of now. The only uncertainty is who will play each other, as a few teams have a chance to trade seeding positions.
The 76ers and Cavaliers, the 3 and 4 seed respectively, have a chance to flip-flop their spots, only being separated by one game, with two games to play.
The Rockets not only clinched the one seed in the West, but they also have the number one overall seed throughout the playoffs, so even the mighty Golden State Warriors would have to go through Houston if they want to repeat as NBA champions.
Led by what most people consider to be the leading MVP candidate James Harden, he had led the Rockets to a 64-16 record this season alongside backcourt mate Chris Paul. The Rockets had an amazing year offensively, ranking second in the NBA in points per game at 112.8, and averaging the most made threes per game as a team at 15.3. The Rockets have a lot to prove this playoff run, as history has shown that both Chris Paul and James Harden struggle in the playoffs, but maybe joining forces will turn that misfortunate around.
The Warriors are still favored to get out of the West, but with the injury to their All-Star point guard Stephen Curry, who has no timetable to return as of now, the Warriors will have to lean on Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to carry the team in his absence.
In the East, the Raptors clinched the top seed. They have a 58-22 record to this point, led by their two All-Star players Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
The Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, are only the 4 seed as of now, even though most people still expect them to get out of the East and get to the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers blew up almost their whole team at the trade deadline, trading away six players, including Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade, and getting back four players, George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. Those new players with LeBron James are all unproven in the postseason, so LeBron will have to test his guys and help make plays for them.
The Cavaliers also have a history of having their way with the Raptors in the few previous playoffs, since they have to go through Toronto to get back to the Finals. The Celtics had a great chance to get out of the East, but they were hit with horrible news last week that their All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving would be out for the season after a knee surgery, almost ruining any potential run they could have had.
The Raptors have just as much to prove in the playoffs as the mighty Rockets do, so will this be the year they will get over the hill and defeat LeBron James and his new-look Cavaliers?
- Houston Rockets
- Golden State Warriors
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Utah Jazz
- New Orleans Pelicans
- San Antonio Spurs
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Denver Nuggets (1 GB)
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Indiana Pacers
- Miami Heat
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Washington Wizards