11 teams out of 16 possible teams are in the playoffs with five games to go. This is pretty important for avid NBA fans to note due to the fact with five spots open and five games to go, it seems that some playoff teams might be decided on game 82. This is always the most exciting part of the season.
As of right now, the Western Conference already has 7/8 playoff spots set as the much tighter Eastern Conference has 4/8 teams as will seemingly go down to game number 82 to figure out the last few.
For the Western Conference, it is the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets who will fight it out the final five games for the eighth and final playoff spot. The rest of the Western Conference teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. The streaking Trail Blazers who are 7-3 in the last 10 games have a 1.5 game lead on the Nuggets for the eighth spot. The Trailblazers at 39-40 have three games left on their schedule, while the Nuggets at 37-41 have four games left to go.
With two wins and one Nuggets lost, the Portland Trail Blazers would clinch that eighth and final spot in the West. In order for the Nuggets to have some hope, they have to hope Portland loses at least one of the remaining three and that they are able to win three out of their remaining. It will surely be fun to watch as their one is remaining playoff spot in the Western Conference that has been dominated for the most of the season by the #1 Golden State Warriors and the #2 San Antonio Spurs, who did not lose any momentum after losing heart & soul Tim Duncan to retirement last season. The Rockets in the #3 spot have been a surprising team this season. With superstar James Harden having an above and beyond MVP like season, he’s relied heavily on the likes of Trevor Ariza, Ryan Andersen, and Patrick Beverley to help him out.
To me, the biggest surprise in the West this season, has to be the Utah Jazz. All-Star forward Gordon Hayward is having one of his best seasons of his career. Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, and George Hill have also stepped up to be key pieces for the Jazz’s run this season in the West. Hayward is averaging over 21 points per game on the season and has been big on the defensive glass for the Jazz as he is also averaging almost six rebounds per game.
Now onto the Eastern Conference. In one of the tightest Eastern Conference races we have seen in awhile, only four teams have clinched playoff spots so far with about 5 games to go. So far the Cavaliers, Celtics, Raptors, and Wizards have clinched playoff spots. The struggling #5 seed Atlanta Hawks who have gone 3-7 in the last 10 seems like they could clinch a playoff spot in the next or two.
The Milwaukee Bucks have made a great late season push to become a seemingly confident #6 seed to enter the playoffs starting on April 15th. With three East teams still fighting to take away that #8 spot from the Indiana Pacers, it seems like the Miami Heat could be their biggest competitor. As of right now the Heat at 38-40 are .5 games behind the 39-40 Indiana Pacers for the last Eastern Conference spot. This will most definitely come down to game 81 or 82 of the season to be decided.
Some teams will surprise us as the playoffs come and some teams will drop off. That’s the exciting part of playoff basketball. Its very exciting to see how the playoff brackets will shape up. Keep watching basketball and make sure to tune in for the playoffs as they will be here April 15th.