Continuing the NBA season with the start of the playoffs is an option for the league. Most teams have around 15 matches left to play in the regular season schedule when the game is stopped March 11, and not everyone plays the same number of matches.
But in this unprecedented situation, the game will not continue until far beyond the scheduled end of the April 15 regular season. The coach is preparing all possibilities. If the NBA decides to continue the season with a playoff, here is a look at the potential battle.
1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 8 Orlando Magic
Last season Giannis Antetokounmpo led the top-seeded Bucks to the Eastern Conference finals and was 2-0 ahead of the Raptors. But after losing four in a row and being knocked out, Antetokounmpo vowed to return stronger this season. The MVP in power has done that. Milwaukee is again the team to beat in the East. And Antetokounmpo is a candidate to win an award for the second consecutive season, increasing his score (29.6 points per game), rebounding (13.7 ppg) and percentage 3 points (30.6%) in the process.
Orlando struggled to maintain a playoff spot before the season was paused but has won six of nine while getting strong performances from Terrence Ross, Nic Vucevic, Michael Carter-Williams and overall # 1 pick Markelle Fultz. One positive thing about the cessation is that Evan Fournier (sprained elbow) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee sprain) extended the time for rehabilitation and possible return.
No. 4 Miami Heat vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers
The Heat was one of the NBA’s hottest teams when the league closed. They have the third best home record in the East, thanks in large part to All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Butler had found a renaissance in his first season in Miami, leading the team to score 20.2 points per match along with 6.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists. Adebayo has also appeared in his third NBA season, averaging 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Indiana also jumped, winning seven out of 10. One of the beneficiaries of the pause was guard Malcolm Brogdon. The third highest scorer in Indiana (16.3 ppg), he has been out since March 6 with a torn left hip.
The Heat has won both meetings with the Pacers this season.
2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Brooklyn Nets
Defending champion Raptors entered the hiatus with only four wins because he did not post his fifth consecutive 50-win campaign.
Pascal Siakam’s All-Star first stepped in to help fill the vacancy of the departure of Kawhi Leonard, with an average of 23.6 best points per match. He leads a balanced Raptors attack that displays six players on average in double numbers.
Brooklyn is a team that is changing following Kenny Atkinson’s sudden dismissal as coach. Jacque Vaughn is 2-0 since taking charge but will lead the team minus Kevin Durant (Achilles tendon rehabilitation) and Kyrie Irving (shoulder surgery in February).
3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers
Jayson Tatum’s All-Star first experienced a third season breakout. He led the team in scoring (23.6 ppg) and second in rebounds (7.1). This helped the Celtics become a threat to win Timur after Irving’s departure from free agency.
Tatum has also received a lot of support from Kemba Walker, who averaged 21.2 points and 4.9 assists despite several injuries. Jaylen Brown (20.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) also validated a four-year contract extension worth $ 107 million which he signed in October.
If you can make attractive partners with 76ers, assuming they can be healthy. Joel Embiid (23.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg) has played only 44 matches and overcame the latest shoulder problems. Ben Simmons recovered from a pinched nerve in his back.
Los Angeles Lakers No. 1 vs. Memphis Grizzlies No. 8
The Lakers have played and hope to catch up to the addition of Anthony Davis. They have the best record in the West and 13-3 since the beginning of February.
LeBron James gets the MVP buzz and Davis has helped remove the pressure from him. The Lakers also posted consecutive wins over the Bucks and Clippers before suspension this season.
The presence of Memphis’ Ja Morant will bring more attention to this series. He has 27 points and 14 assists in the win over the Lakers in February.
Number 4 Utah Jazz vs. No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder
Disclosure that Rudy Gobert’s All-Star Jazz Center’s positive test for COVID-19 just minutes before Oklahoma City and Utah was scheduled to end their fight March 11 resulted in a delay in the game and caused the closing roll throughout the sports world.
Gobert’s teammate, Donovan Mitchell, was also positive. Gobert and Mitchell are two of Jazz’s top scorers, so the intrigue surrounding this potential partner will be huge at various levels.
Both teams have halved their meetings this season.
2 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
The Clippers sometimes look like one of the league’s best offenses and are fourth in the NBA with 116.2 points per match.
Kawhi Leonard’s score (26.9 ppg) and shooting (46.9%) were also equivalent to last season’s production in Toronto. Paul George is also solid. But the team, including the Lakers, have been able to take advantage of Lou Williams in difficult times. That’s something that Rivers Rivers should look for.
That would create an attractive pair opposite to the Mavericks team led by All-Star Luka Dončić.
3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Houston Rockets
If they have a choice, these teams will likely avoid the first round fighting with each other. They divided their four meetings this season, with only one match determined by less than 10 points.
The Nuggets only gave 107.4 points per game, tied for the eighth least in the NBA. But James Harden hasn’t scored less than 27 points in one of the three matches he played against Denver this season.
Nikola Jokić was also a problem for Houston, which allowed 114.4 points in one match.