In the middle of all this talk about resting players, an MVP race and loud-mouth fathers, the NBA is gearing up for this little thing called “The Playoffs.” College basketball is wrapping up, they will have a new champion come this time next week, and that is when the big boys take over!
We often think that we know who will be in the NBA Finals and where the next King of the Court will come from, but it is really not that easy because the matchups that take shape during this part of the season can change the entire postseason landscape.
I hinted earlier that there could be an interesting race in both conferences to get the best spot possible. In the East, the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Indiana Pacers are all fighting for position to gain the smoothest possible path to the conference finals. By smoothest path, I mean avoiding the Cleveland Cavaliers for as long as possible. The Cavs themselves are in a fight with the Boston Celtics for the top ranking in the East. They currently have slipped to the No. 2 slot.
At the bottom of the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers are trying to keep the Denver Nuggets from sneaking into the postseason. While at the top of the West, the San Antonio Spurs say that they don’t care about taking that top spot from the Golden State Warriors, but we all know that is a lie. Everyone who has played the game of basketball knows the importance of having a Game 7 played on your home floor and in front of your home crowd! Not even “The Great Coach Pop” and company can deny that.
With these mini battles going on, keep an eye out for the injury bug. Atlanta has Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, and Thabo Sefolosha all injured while fighting to stay alive in the playoff mix. There is still no timetable for Kevin Durant’s return to Golden State, even though it is rumored that he will come back before the playoffs start. The Toronto Raptors are looking to get point guard Kyle Lowry back from wrist surgery around the beginning of the postseason.
As we have seen in seasons past, injuries and fatigue play a major part in deciding who will be the next NBA champion. So buckle up NBA fans, because something tells me that this NBA postseason will be one to remember.