Check out our snap prediction on where each of the playoff – or play-in – bound teams could end up this postseason. I like an Eastern Conference sleeper and where in the world do we look when it comes to the wild West!?!
Check it out…
BOSTON – The C’s are all duck or no dinner and because of that you’d have to think they’re vulnerable to the Wizards in the play-in. Overall, unless J Tatum takes over Kobe-style, it’s hard to see them doing any real damage.
Ceiling: 2nd Round exit.
BROOKLYN – They have unlimited talent, offensive firepower, great size, ample playoff experience and some championship DNA thanks to Kyrie and KD… but… the big 3 have played just 8 games together and when they do all play they play no defence whatsoever which makes me happy to oppose them as title favourites.
Ceiling: NBA Finals… just not sure they can win the whole thing.
PHILLY – Embiid has been an unstoppable force for most of the season. Only a knee issue slowed him up and Simmons is so much more than anyone wants to give him credit for. A real threat to claim the East but will need big contributions from Tobias Harris plus Green and Curry from deep.
Ceiling: NBA Finals. They can win the East.
MILWAUKEE – The quiet achievers this season after a couple of historical seasons have yielded playoff disappointment. With less expectation from the outside, I’m liking Giannis, Middleton and Jrue Holiday to sneakily make a deep deep run at this thing. They’re my tip to win the eastern conference.
Ceiling: NBA Finals, my smoky to make a deep run.
KNICKS – What a fantastic season for the Knickerbockers! After years of playoff hibernation Julius Randle has carried this team to the playoffs. He’s the league’s Most Improved Player and – for mine – is among the top handful in regards to overall MVP voting. I like them to overcome Atlanta in round one and it will be great to see playoff hoops in The Garden.
Ceiling: 2nd Round.
ATLANTA – Frankly, I was surprised to see just how high these Hawks were in the eastern standings. No one ever talks about the eastern conference’s No. 5 ranked team. Trae Young is such a weapon despite his slight stature and much, maybe too much, will fall on his shoulders. Young will likely average 30 and 10 dimes v New York.
Ceiling: Round 1 exit.
MIAMI – Last season’s run to the NBA Finals was superb but health has been a crippling issue this season. Jimmy was incredible last playoffs but he will need to twitch the switch real soon. He and Bam got rolling at the right time of the year last season and there are some signs the same thing is happening now. I’m not sure the Bucks would be thrilled to see this team in round one and this MIL/MIA series could be the highlight of round one.
Ceiling: 2nd Round. Hard to see them going on a similar run to last season.
WASHINGTON – No one else gives up as many points, but with firecrackers named Westbrook and Beal they can top the 118 they give up on any given night. They could sneak past Boston in the play-in. They have the game’s best ever triple-double man and the NBA’s second-leading scorer so the potency is there, but the defence is invisible.
Ceiling: Round 1 exit, sorry Wizards fans.
INDIANA – Giving up 115 per night is a not a recipe for success, fortunately they also average 115 themselves. Sabonis’ 20, 12 and almost 7 per game has been mammoth. A play-in date with Charlotte is hardly prime time playoff ball but the Pacers should fancy themselves to get the W and take a shot at Boston or Washington.
Ceiling: Sneak into the playoffs then head home in Round 1.
CHARLOTTE – LaMelo makes them worth watching but they’re still a fair way down the pecking order and are well below .500. Gordon Hayward’s absence has really struck hard as he was back to his best early this season. MJ needs to add another star alongside Ball to give them any hope of playoff success in the future.
Ceiling: Unlikely to make the actual playoffs in my humble…
JAZZ – No Spida, no problems. Utah has kept it rolling without their best player with Aussie Joe, Clarkson and Bogdanovic balling out. Mitchell’s eventual transition back into the fray will be interesting. Gobert will be even more valuable in these playoffs with his ability to protect the rim as defensive schemes heat up. For the team that takes and makes the most 3 balls in the NBA, their 3-PT % will define their playoff existence.
Ceiling: NBA Finals. Plenty of question marks but you’ve got to respect what they’ve done.
PHOENIX – What a great story! Add CP3 to a talented core and they suddenly become the No. 2 seed in the West. We saw the potential in last year’s Bubble. I get the feeling D Book is built for playoff hoops and Paul will be keen to snap his playoff hoodoo. Hopefully a few late-season losses have not dented their confidence as a contender. A round one match-up with the LA Lakers would be a nightmare but not a certain defeat.
Ceiling: NBA Finals. This is the year CP3 breaks his Finals drought.
DENVER – They have the MVP but they’ve lost their star guard. Mike Porter Jr has stepped up big in Murray’s absence but the Joker will need to be a 30-12-10 freak to carry them towards the West Finals. Made a great run last season but Murray was key to that push and he’s gone. Aaron Gordon adds something but they’ll dearly miss the 31ppg Murray poured in during round one of last season’s playoffs.
Ceiling: Another Western Conference Finals appearance is a possibility.
CLIPPERS – A sleeping giant or just asleep? It’s almost like we’ve forgotten Leonard’s playoff exploits as the focus will shift to Paul George’s playoff performance. Batum, Beverley, Boogie and Rondo will need to be a factor and they can be. Rondo’s form was immense helping LA get the ring last season now he needs to do the same for the other LA squad. They’ve gone 47-25 without anyone really ever giving them any credit because what they do in the next month is all that matters.
Ceiling: Can win the whole thing, could also exit in round 2.
DALLAS – A slow start has morphed into a powerful stretch run to get to 42-30. Luka has played like the MVP we thought he may be of late and Porzingis – among others – have stepped up to help. Doncic will have to produce so much for Big D to have any chance however he will have to deal with Leonard, George and perhaps Beverley as primary defenders. No easy task!
Ceiling: Hard to see them getting past LAC.
PORTLAND – In Dame and CJ these Blazers have a deadly and very dangerous backcourt shooting duo. They’ll be a tough out for someone but it’s impossible to see them rolling past all the West has to offer. On any given night they can pour in 130 and beat anyone. IF Nurkic and Kanter can slow down Jokic then the Blazers can upend Denver for sure.
Ceiling: Can topple Denver and would be dangerous against anyone.
LAKERS – Your eyes – and brain – should tell you winning a ring is a long long way off the radar for this squad but when you have the world’s best and the league’s most talented big, you cannot discount them. James is still carrying this ankle complaint but he’s been superhuman for almost 20 years so what’s a little ankle sprain going to do!?! A play-in date with Steph and the Warriors is far from ideal but these extra games may be the perfect tonic for James and Davis to return to top form. They’ll be favourite in every series they’re in except maybe Brooklyn in the Finals.
Ceiling: Champs. Much is against them but they have LeKing and AD.
GOLDEN STATE – Slated for the play-in tournament against the defending champs but the way Curry is playing who could ever count them out. Draymond will not fear LA but former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins could be the wildcard to get GSW past the champs and into the playoffs.
Ceiling: Round 1 exit. They could sneak in but there’s not enough talent past Steph and Draymond.
MEMPHIS – Ja is must-see TV so hopefully we see these Grizzlies into this post-season as well as those to come. Memphis needs a notable free agent signing. Their clash with the Spurs will be hardly anything to get excited about unless you live in Texas or Tennessee.
Ceiling: Forget about it.
SPURS – Hard to see them doing any damage. It’s hard to identify their franchise player and you’d think they’re closer to a full blown rebuild than a championship, despite Coach Pop’s greatness. Making the playoffs would surprise but they’ll have a date with Utah who will make short work of them.
Ceiling: Forget about it.