Which NBA Teams Are The Most Playoff-Ready?

Thursday, March 14, 2019 6:25 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019 6:25 PM UTC

Believe it or not, the NBA postseason is just a few weeks away and there is still a lot of sots to be decided in both conferences. However, if the playoffs started today, which teams would have the best chance of moving onto the conference finals?

<h2><strong>Houston Rockets</strong></h2><p>Even though their winning streak was snapped by the Warriors recently, there is no shame in losing to Golden State at any time of the year. Still, the Rockets have been extremely successful both against Golden State and recently. They were riding a nine-game winning streak before that two-point loss on March 13 and it all started with a win over the Warriors right after the All Star Break.</p><p>Houston has now made their way out of the hole they dug for themselves over the first 50 games of the season and are neck and neck with the Thunder for the third overall seed in the West. They are also less than five games out of first place and three games out of the two seed.</p><p>They have one of the best offensive players in the league in James Harden, but the rest of the Rockets seem to be settling into their roles behind Harden leading the way. Since the All Star Break, Houston has also seen some nice improvement on defense.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Since the All-Star break, the Houston Rockets have the 7th best defense in the NBA.&lt;/p&gt;— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/SalmanAliNBA/status/1104936299734204417?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;March 11, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n\n"}[/]</p><p>A lot of it is getting Clint Capela back from injury, but over their first 11 games back from the break, Houston held opponents to 107.2 points per 100 possessions. That ranks sixth-best among all 30 teams in that same stretch.</p><p>If they can stay healthy, Houston is in for a long playoff run.</p><p> </p><h2><strong>Milwaukee Bucks</strong></h2><p>Although their lead atop the East is not that safe, the Bucks would have to start losing or have a severe injury to one of their top players to be shaken from the top of the East. They have continued to impress since the All Star Break. While their defense has been somewhat sketchy since then, the Bucks own an offensive rating of 115.7 in their first 11 games since the break. That ranks tied with the Blazers for best in the league during that time span.</p><p>If Milwaukee can combine this elite offense with their defense from the first half of the season, it might be a forgone conclusion that they win the East. Toronto, Philadelphia and Boston are all viable contenders, but none of them have a player as good as Giannis Antetokounmpo.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Because Giannis Antetokounmpo is in a small market, opposing teams will constantly try to pry him out of Milwaukee.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;However, I talked to two NBA executives who feel the Bucks are doing everything right to keep Giannis happy and ensure he stays long-term: &lt;a href=\"https://t.co/VVdvuql1Jr\"&gt;pic.twitter.com/VVdvuql1Jr&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/AlexKennedyNBA/status/1105958021493129216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;March 13, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>Adrian Wojnarowski also made a good point recently on ESPN. Among all four of the true contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are the only ones who don’t have some big free agent among their core players. This has led to a lot of off-court drama with Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard in their respective teams.</p><p>The Bucks just signed Eric Bledsoe to an extension and I’m sure they have given Khris Middleton assurance that if he wants sign an extension this summer instead of becoming a free agent, the Bucks will offer him a deal similar, if not more than what Bledsoe got.</p><p>All of this makes for team that is readier than their three toughest competitors.</p><p> </p><h2><strong>Detroit Pistons</strong></h2><p>This may come as a shock to some of you, but the Detroit Pistons are pretty good. They have been one of the hottest teams since the break and they are threatening Brooklyn for the 6<sup>th</sup> overall seed in the East.</p><p>That’s a far cry from the end of January when they were 21-28 and looking like a lock to be in the lottery once again. However, since February 1, the Pistons are 12-5 SU and 11-6 ATS and their trio of young stars are starting to come together.</p><p>Reggie Jackson is playing the best basketball of his life, which is crazy to say eight years into a guy’s career. However, Dwane Casey has brought out the best in Jackson this year. The Detroit point guard is averaging just 15.2 points, but his three-point percentage is a career best 37% and it has upped his effective field goal percentage to above 50% for the first time in his career.</p><p>He is one of only 11 starting point guards this season who are averaging <a href="https://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&amp;match=single&amp;type=per_game&amp;per_minute_base=36&amp;per_poss_base=100&amp;season_start=1&amp;season_end=-1&amp;lg_id=NBA&amp;age_min=0&amp;age_max=99&amp;is_playoffs=N&amp;height_min=0&amp;height_max=99&amp;year_min=2019&amp;year_max=2019&amp;birth_country_is=Y&amp;as_comp=gt&amp;as_val=0&amp;pos_is_g=Y&amp;c1stat=efg_pct&amp;c1comp=gt&amp;c1val=50&amp;c2stat=pts_per_g&amp;c2comp=gt&amp;c2val=15&amp;order_by=ws">15 or more points and posting an effective field goal percentage above 50%.</a></p><p>Combined his play with the devastating duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, the Pistons are working with a nice combination. Add in a large group of young shooters around the outside and the Pistons could very well snag that 6<sup>th</sup> seed after not making the playoffs since 2016. Detroit has also made the playoffs just once in the last nine years, so this means a lot to this franchise and their chances in free agency.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;The Detroit Pistons are 12-2 in their last 14 game&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;They have won 7 straight at home&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;They are now 34-31 after being 22-29 and have are now the 6th seed after being outside of the Playoffs prior to this stretch &lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;🔥🔥🔥 &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBA?src=hash&amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#NBA&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pistons?src=hash&amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#Pistons&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"https://t.co/Q5jsRg6PmI\"&gt;pic.twitter.com/Q5jsRg6PmI&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— BetBlog (@betblog_com) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/betblog_com/status/1104813052262862848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;March 10, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p> </p>
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