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What These NBA Teams Need To Make It To This Season’s Playoffs
The landscape of the NBA Playoffs are not set in stone
In three short months, the NBA 2017-2018 Playoffs will be among us. It doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but there is still enough room for conference shake ups. Currently, the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors are topping the Eastern Conference with 34-10 and 29-13 records, respectively. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets are killing it in the West with respective records of 36-9 and 30-12.
But like we said, there is still room for movement. And for now, we’re looking at the teams ranked 9th to 11th in both Conferences.
Current rankings: Golden State Warriors (36-9), Houston Rockets (30-12), Minnesota Timberwolves (29-16), San Antonio Spurs (29-16), Oklahoma City Thunders (24-20), New Orleans Pelicans (22-20), Los Angeles Clippers (22-21), Denver Nuggets (22-21)
Portland Trail Blazers (22-21)
The Portland Trail Blazers are hot on the heels of the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers, with the three teams actually sharing the same win percentage at this point. But if Terry Stotts wants to cement his team’s standing in the Playoffs, Portland has to work on their assists.
The team currently ranks last in the entire league when it comes to assists and their overall standing in the Western Conference would no doubt improve if the players worked on rotating the ball. Moreover, the Trail Blazers seem to be relying heavily on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in terms of offense, which means that the bench needs to pick up on their own offensive game. At the same time, however, the team needs to keep up their current level of defense.
Utah Jazz (17-26)
Donovan Mitchell Jr. has been making a solid run for Rookie Of The Year, which has clearly been what Utah Jazz needs. With Gordon Hayward’s transfer during the off-season, it seemed like the team was without a strong player and Mitchell is quickly filling in that role. The 21-year-old rookie has been scoring double-digit points and playing an average of 31.4 minutes per game. The franchise has given Mitchell the keys and he just needs to work on his position further.
One of the team’s main players, Ricky Rubio, also has to get back into his groove. With his numbers slipping, Utah Jazz has been suffering from a weaker offense that has placed them at 29th in the league in terms of field goal attempts. Turning his game around would undoubtedly benefit the team.
Phoenix Suns (16-28)
With one of the best potential defensive players on their team, the Phoenix Suns need to take advantage of the athleticism of rookie Josh Jackson. If the 20-year-old works on strengthening his court presence and reaches his full potential, it will help the Suns limit their enemies’ offense.
When it comes to their offensive strategy, Phoenix has been relying heavily on Devin Booker. The minutes he’s been spending on court have been working to the team’s advantage, but Booker needs to work on his consistency. Otherwise, the other players need to work on their own offensive percentages to pick up whenever Booker comes short.
Current Rankings: Boston Celtics (32-10), Toronto Raptors (29-13), Cleveland Cavaliers (26-17), Miami Heat (25-18), Washington Wizards (25-19), Indiana Pacers (24-20), Milwaukee Bucks (23-20), Detroit Pistons (22-20)
Philadelphia 76ers (20-20)
Some argue that if Joel Embiid was less injury-prone that the ranking of the Philadelphia 76ers would be better than it is currently—and this argument is not without merit. Likewise, it is arguable that the team would be in a better position if Markelle Fultz could return to the rotation as well.
But these are factors that the 76ers can’t exactly help. So while waiting for Fultz to get back into fighting shape, they need to decrease their number of turnovers and fouls as the team ranks first in both categories. If the number of turnovers are limited and with Ben Simmons running point, there will be more offensive chances for the rest to convert.
New York Knicks (20-24)
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The Latvian Unicorn otherwise known as Kristaps Porzingis improves with every night he spends on the court. The 22-year-old has proven himself in terms of offense and defense and is very mobile for someone of his height. If he were to make his game more consistent, the New York Knicks might experience more wins, but Porzingis cannot do it alone. The rest of the team needs to bring their A game each and every time.
It might also help the team if Jeff Hornacek gave Michael Beasley more time on the court as he has experienced a resurgence in his career. He has proven himself an effective scorer in some of the Knicks’ recent games.
Charlotte Hornets (17-25)
Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard are two key players in the Charlotte Hornets’ lineup. These two work well together on paper and this potential has been realized on court. Dwight’s a very mobile center and has capitalized on the pick and roll from Kemba, resulting in converted buckets. However, the rest of the team cannot seem to click on the arc whenever the play needs a kick out pass to the shooter.
And since Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has not been doing as well this season, wingman Nick Batum needs to step up like he used to back in his Portland days.
The last few games before the Playoffs are crucial so make sure you don’t get left behind with the official NBA app on your mobile phone via Google Play or the App Store. You can also watch every available game of the 2017-2018 regular season with the NBA League Pass.