The NBA Playoffs are upon us, and there are some frightening teams who are still alive.
The most recent NBA season marked an All-Time high in NBA attendance and ratings, so what better time is there to look at the best and worst NBA teams to visit in the postseason?
The Warriors, who are battling the San Antonio Spurs, are the overwhelming odds-on favorite to win the title. But they face the third-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinal and the No. 6 seed Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals. Both teams are missing their best players, but they are both playing with great intensity and have some of the scariest players in the NBA.
The N.B.A.’s play-in tournament nearly fell flat with a series of blowout games until LeBron James and Stephen Curry rescued the postseason appetizer experiment with a dynamic one-off between the Los Angeles Lakers and Curry’s Golden State.
Now, the real games are here, with the Knicks and the Nets both earning a seat at the table.
The championship is up for grabs after a truncated off-season and a somewhat sluggish and injury-filled regular season.
In the Western Conference, neither of the two top seeds — the Utah Jazz or the Phoenix Suns — is favored to escape the conference with the defending-champion Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers lurking.
In the Eastern Conference, the Nets are finally at full strength at the right time, Milwaukee and Philadelphia are revamped, looking to advance beyond past stumbles, and Jimmy Butler and his Heat — last season’s Eastern Conference champions — will try to prove that success last year was no fluke.
Here’s a look at the matchups.
When the Clippers lost their final two regular-season games to Houston and Oklahoma City, two of the league’s worst teams, it signaled to the rest of the N.B.A. that the Clippers wanted to get out of the Lakers’ side of the Western playoff bracket and delay a possible matchup until the conference finals. With the Clippers needing only a win over the Thunder to clinch the No. 3 seed, rest assured that they were equally motivated by the prospect of dropping to No. 4 and locking in a first-round series with Dallas.
The state of the Clippers’ psyche remains a major curiosity after their second-round collapse against Denver last season, but no one questions their confidence in being able to beat the Mavericks for the second straight postseason. It’s a matchup they clearly relish; health is the greater uncertainty after they coped with myriad injuries this season.
For all of the danger Dallas’ Luka Doncic poses, Clippers Coach Tyronn Lue has a variety of defensive options (Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Marcus Morris for starters) to send at Doncic and make him work for his numbers. To have a chance, the Mavericks will need consistent production from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson, and even more so from their big men who can stretch the floor with shooting — Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are NBA teams seeded in playoffs?
The NBA playoffs are seeded by regular-season record.
What is the lowest seed to win an NBA championship?
The lowest seed to win an NBA championship is the 8th seed.
Has any team went 16 0 in NBA playoffs?
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