by Blake Krantz
With the regular season coming to a close one week from today, the NBA is gearing up for another spring of playoff basketball.
In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics are in a five team race for the final two spots in the playoffs. The Celtics, Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, and Indiana Pacers are all currently knotted within three points in the standings.
The Celtics, at 36-42, moved up a spot to the seventh seed in the conference last night with a convincing 113-103 victory in Detroit. Led by midseason acquisition Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have made a strong playoff push, and have hope for a first round upset over the first-seeded Atlanta Hawks or the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.
Optimally, the Celtics will finish eighth in the conference, as their chance to dismantle the top team in the East in the Hawks is much greater than an upset over Cleveland in the first season of their new “big three”: Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love.
Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans are tied for the last playoff spot with a record of 42-36. The Thunder have dealt with injuries all season, with superstar Kevin Durant sidelined for several months, but have been kept afloat largely due to phenomenal play from point guard Russell Westbrook, who leads the league with an astounding 11 triple-doubles.
MVP candidate Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have clinched the top seed in the West with a league-best record of 63-15, and will look to make a deep playoff run this year. The Warriors have looked somewhat unbeatable at home this season, with a record of 35-2 at Oracle Arena.
The defending champion San Antonio Spurs have also clinched a playoff spot, currently sitting at sixth in the conference, but are peaking at the right time of year. The Spurs won their ninth straight last night over Houston, 110-98.
The Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Dallas Mavericks will also have playoff spots, at two, three, four, five, and seven, respectively, in the standings to date.
Ultimately, when the playoffs tip-off next week, there will be many teams to follow and many games to watch, no matter who you may be pulling for to win it all.