Get ready to crank up your “NBA hype engine” a notch as the playoffs are just a couple of days away. Here we are with the last recap of the regular season and it’s a big one!
Last week the Rockets, Warriors, Trailblazers and Spurs were covered.
THIS IS RIDICULOUS pic.twitter.com/xR7KOiiQyp
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) April 8, 2018
Looking at the standings list, it already feels like playoffs as it’s a ‘do or die’ situation for 6 franchises. Jazz, Spurs, Thunder, Timberwolves, Pelicans and Nuggets are all in a swamp, trying to create a gap between each other with the sole intention of securing a playoff spot.
The insanity in the playoffs battle can be perfectly illustrated by the fact that the Utah Jazz who were holding onto the 6th slot 2 games ago are now in 4th, pushing the Spurs to 6th.
The performance of the Jazz has been a key discussion point during the season and currently they are on a 4 game winning streak. Donovan Mitchell; one of the front runners for the rookie of the year award (20.4 points per game) is fueling the offence while 7’1″ center, Rudy Gobert protects the ring with his 7’9″ wing span. The averages of 13.7 points and 10.9 rebounds to go along with 125 blocks made this season, don’t do justice to the impact the big man is having on the floor. With each and every performance, the talk of him being the defensive player of the year is boosted.
Defensive Player of the Year award: The case for Rudy Gobert. pic.twitter.com/6nfqtcjcy2
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) April 4, 2018
Jazz only have 3 games left in the season and Lakers, Warriors and Trailblazers are lined up to face them. To keep the playoffs dream alive they need to win it all! The road to Western Conference playoffs is no cakewalk!
Meanwhile the dynamic season that the Pelicans are having shouldn’t be taken lightly either. Despite losing DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, Anthony Davis has propelled the franchise to the 5th spot in the West. Cousins suffered a season ending Achilles tendon rupture on 31st January and after the All Star break, the Pelicans’ record reads 15-8 and it’s not hyperbolic to say that it’s mainly due to the phenomenal performance of Davis.
Anthony Davis reached 2,000 points for the season last night. He’s the first player since Shaquille O’Neal (1999-00 & 2000-01) to record at least 2,000 points and 150 blocks in back-to-back seasons.
— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) April 7, 2018
“The Brow” is currently 3rd in the MVP battle with averages of 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Along with Davis, Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, E’Twaun Moore and the veteran point guard Rajan Rondo are making vital contributions, averaging 19, 13.6, 12.3 and 8.1 points per game respectively.
The Pelicans recently took down the Warriors (126-120) behind a 34 point, 12 rebound and 4 block performance by Davis. Within the next week they are scheduled to play against the Clippers and Spurs to wrap up the regular season and 2 Ws in the win column is all what they need.
One of the most bizarre incidents in this mind boggling season is seeing Oklahoma City Thunder, struggling to maintain consistency unlike the previous seasons. With the addition of superstar hooping skills in the shape of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the expectation by many was to see Thunder topping the standings table at the end of the regular season. But with a 46-34 record, Thunder is tied with Jazz, Pelicans and Spurs, sitting one above the cut off line of 8th seed.
Russell Westbrook; the reigning MVP is undoubtedly continuing his supernatural form with 24 triple doubles this season and averaging 25.6 points, 9.9 rebounds and 10.1 assists which is almost a triple double.
Nevertheless, Thunder offence still needs to tweaked. Last Sunday, Rockets were soundly beaten by Thunder (108-102), snapping the opponents’ 20 home game winning streak, with the ‘big three’ chipping in with 20+ scores each. Heat and Grizzlies are the upcoming matchups for the OKC ballers and just like they pushed past the Rockets, they need to secure wins against the rest as well to compete for the playoffs.
If they manage to secure the 7th seed, high-paced, eye popping 1st round playoffs will be guaranteed as they will be facing the Warriors. “Brodie” might finally get the chance to prove to Durant that he shouldn’t have got traded!
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 3, 2018
In the interim, Timberwolves are tapping on the door for the playoffs as well. “All eyes were North” when the Wolves were hunting well at the beginning of the season but recently it’s been a bumpy journey for them. All Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler suffered a meniscus injury back in February and for the relief in mind for many, he returned to game play last Saturday, fueling them to a win against the Lakers. Butler averages 22.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists and along with Karl Anthony Towns, it’s a well-known fact that the Wolves are highly lethal. Towns is having a monstrous season with 21.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 42.1% beyond the arc.
KAT has recorded a double-double in a league-high 65 games this season. With his 26 point, 13 rebound performance last night, he became the 1st player in NBA history to score 5,000+ points, grab 2,500+ rebounds and make 250+ 3-pointers in his first 3 seasons. #AllEyesNorth
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) April 6, 2018
Apart from Towns and Butler, Minnesota’s roster is star studded with Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose. 6 players who are scoring in double digits and ranking 7th in points per game in the league shows the offensive prowess that they possess. But the road to the playoffs doesn’t seem easy so everyone will surely have to step up their game and perform to improve their record which reads 45-35, with 2 much needed wins. Recently suffering loses to bottom dwellers of the standings table didn’t do any favors to them.
8th seed isn’t still locked and at the moment Nuggets are tugging hard at their legs.
Denver Nuggets (45-35) are currently 0.5 game differential away from paving their way to a playoffs run and with the 5 game winning streak, undoubtedly their confidence is building. Nikola Jokic aka ‘The Joker’ is the prominent force in the squad and he averages 23.9 points, 11 rebounds and 6 dimes per game, probably being the best all-round performing rim-running man in the league. Though his defensive game isn’t well-known for a center, it’s his offence that the Nuggets are thriving upon. With his 9th triple double last Sunday against the Clippers, Nuggets are now tied for the 8th seed and well separated from the 10th seeded Clippers who were trailing closely behind them.
Jokic assists 29% of Nuggets baskets on the floor and that’s more than any center of the league has ever done. Wilt Chamberlain and Kevin Garnett remain as the only big men to average 6 dimes for a season along with Jokic and it surely shows the elite status that Jokic is in.
Jokic since the March 7 game against Cleveland when LeBron went nuclear down the stretch to steal it:
23.9 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 6.4 APG, 55/48/89 shooting, 1.4 Stls PG, 1.1 Blks PG
An amazing month to keep Denver in it.
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) April 8, 2018
Along with Jokic, Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Wilson Chandler, Mason Plumlee and Devin Harris forge the Nuggets squad and it’ll be interesting to see whether they unsettle the Timberwolves to clinch the 8th seed in the next few days. Nuggets will be facing the Trailblazers and Timberwolves to mark the end of the regular season and 2 wins will be the cherry on top of the amazing season that they have had so far.
So, it’s time to wrap up the recap on potential playoffs contestants for the Western Conference. The conference standings list surely looks like a stat sheet of a war but this is for what every NBA player sheds their blood and sweat. So, if the playoffs bracket is drawn with the current standings, we predict the results to be as follows and the stats of matchups against each team during the regular season is the main ground on which this is built up on.
We only have to wait a few more weeks to see who triumphs in the mighty West and it’s already assured that this year’s playoffs will unearth never before seen hooping skills.
So, stay in touch with us as it’s the best time of the year for the worldwide NBA fandom.
To lighten the mood from the intense analysis, check out the following video! Everyone is playoff ready and already “in sync”!
With the final week of the NBA regular season here, we highlight the best SYNCHRONICITY of the season: pic.twitter.com/UEMR9zibGc
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 7, 2018
Until next week, keep balling!