Just 10 games or fewer to go in the NBA regular season until the thrilling playoffs and no wizardry is needed to deduce that the hype is growing day by day. Hence, it’s undoubtedly the time to preview the playoffs bracket of both Eastern and Western conferences!
At the commencement of the season, there was enough backlash against the Eastern Conference regarding the teams being weak and the competition among them being laughable.
72 games into the season and there is plenty of proof for the critics to question their own words.
Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers have surely reached the epitome of hooping prowess and they all have secured a playoff spot already, ensuring that the battle for playoffs still prevails. It seems like the contenders for the Eastern Conference playoffs are already decided unless the Pistons (33-40) make an eye popping winning streak. Though the 8 teams have already emerged, the particular spot for each team can still differ hence the excitement of the regular season shouldn’t subside.
Toronto Raptors is currently the leading wolf in the pack of the East as their record reads 54-19. The 11 game winning streak which extended from the end of February to mid-March, surely was a confidence booster and an eye opener to the league as they even managed to hand a L to the unimpeachable Houston Rockets, who were on a 17 game winning streak, which many thought was impossible.
With the effort and the dedication that the Raptors bring to the table under the leadership of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, it’s a clear cut fact that they are a major playoff threat this year. Owning the best record in the East doesn’t necessarily mean that they will win the East but they sure have a chance. Cavaliers, Celtics and 76ers will have a tough time and it’s guaranteed.
Celtics sure made a blast at the beginning of the season with a 16 game winning streak and as the intensity increased commitment showed no decline, they now sit 2nd in the East with a 49-23 record. Celtics were held even above the Raptors by many but now the odds are against them as the injury bug is making its way through the team.
No Kyrie, Jaylen, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward or Daniel Thies vs one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
— Max Lederman (@Max_Lederman) March 24, 2018
Almost all the players in the Celtics roster had to deal with an injury within this season and currently one of their biggest concerns is their star point guard Kyrie Irving being out of gameplay.
Celtics say Kyrie Irving underwent surgery to remove a tension wire in his left knee. Expected back in 3-6 weeks.
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 24, 2018
If everything goes according to the plan, Irving can return after 3 weeks which will be perfect for the Celtics as playoffs would have just begun. Without Hayward since the beginning of the season, Irving carried the responsibilities of the team as the leader and with Irving being sidelined, it’s Al Horford who’s charging the C’s at the moment.
Celtics are 20-8 against Western Conference opponents this season thus many surely had their money on them to come out of the East and to win it all but now the probability has lowered. Despite of beating the Trailblazers and Thunder last week, Celtics still need a guaranteed offensive force in order to make the long run.
They trusted The Process.
And now the 76ers have clinched their first playoff berth since 2012. pic.twitter.com/5mj40OUexf
— ESPN (@espn) March 26, 2018
Amidst all the mayhem, 76ers who currently sits 4th in the East have made a silent but surprising run this season. Their 42-30 record is creating enough drama as far as the playoffs spots below 3rd are considered. Pacers, Wizards and 76ers are neck and neck with each other while the Bucks and Heat are just around the corner.
The energy and efficiency that the 76ers possess is mind blowing.
There are 138 different 3 man combos that have played at least 750 minutes.
6 of them have a net rating of +14.0 or better.
All 6 are on the 76ers. pic.twitter.com/gtVOIyPYsO
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) March 25, 2018
Simmons, Embiid, Reddick, Covington and Saric have now established a firm reputation for the Philly squad and when the playoffs come, there’s no telling how tough these young ballers will get. With the athleticism and scoring prowess they carry, whoever winds up with them will have to think twice before making moves on the floor. The only problem for the Sixers is their lack of playoffs experience.
If the playoffs bracket is drawn according to how it stands today, the 76ers will battle for the 1st round against the Pacers and if the regular season record is anything to go by, there is a high chance that it’ll be a 6+ games series and with the elevated spirits, there’s a chance for them to advance to the 2nd round as well.
That’s a wrap on the preview of the big guns who made major headlines throughout the season in the Eastern Conference. Check out the second part of the Eastern Conference preview to update yourself for the NBA playoffs 2018 because this is no time to miss NBA fun!