The playoff seeding is starting to take shape and this is the time teams make their push. The real season starts in January and that time has come.
For most of the NBA teams in the East, the halfway point has occurred for a week now and its time for the playoff push. For the Philadelphia 76ers, after their 89-80 win over the Boston Celtics at the Garden, they officially played 41 games. That puts their record at (21-20) and winning five of their last six games. The Sixers are currently the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference and are looking to make a push for the playoffs with all of their momentum, while others in the east are headed to mediocrity. Here is a prediction of where teams will stand coming after the final game of the regular season. Will the Sixers be in the playoffs? Let’s find out.
Before I start, I want to let you all know I am all about analytics. I am very into looking at a teams strength of schedule when determining a team’s final record at the halfway point every season. Take a team like the New York Knicks for example. They are 10th in the east with a (20-25) record. They have the 3rd easiest schedule to date according to Team Rankings.com. They have the fourth most wins at home in the east, but a dreadful road record. To me, that tells me that the law of averages will even out and they will stay where they are and miss the playoffs. A playoff team has to win on the road, especially when they are playing easy teams in the first half of the season.
Playoff seeding projection
Toronto Raptors (31-14)
The Raptors are currently in second place in the eastern conference standings. This has been a surprise for me as this offseason there were rumors of starting over. Kyle Lowry was rumored to head west but he decided to accept a mega five-year contract. The Raptors look completely different as they move the ball a lot more compared to other years. Just look at Kyle Lowry’s numbers, he is averaging 17.0 per game, which is down from last season, but the overall play of the team is much better. They have the best record at home halfway through the season as well, (17-3) I expect them to get the overall first seed as I compare this team to the Boston Celtics of last season. This team will flourish in the regular season, but I do not see them winning a seven-game series over the Celtics or the Cavs.
Boston Celtics (34-13)
Danny Ainge is a genius. The trade in the offseason that shocked the world was Kyrie Irving to the Celtics and Isiah Thomas to the Cavs. Well, this season, the Celtics have been a team that has won off great defense and leadership. The season seemed over when Gordon Heyward went down five minutes into the season and then lost their first two games. After this, they won 16 games in a row. They only give up 98.4 points a game, which is the best in the Eastern Conference. They also have the best road record at (16-5). This stat tells me they will stay at the second seed as they may not have all the talent, but have great competitive spirit.
Cleveland Cavilers (27-18)
Miami Heat (27-20)
This team gets the job done period. They got hot last season and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker with the Bulls. The Heat have a bunch of role players such as Richardson, Winslow, Dragic, and Johnson that know their role and make the team overall more efficient. Hassin Whiteside has been out with a few injuries throughout the year but the efficiency level of the Heat is better when Whiteside is on the bench in the fourth quarter. I think they will make a trade at the deadline to make a run this postseason. This time will be under looked since there is not a superstar on the team. They have the best team chemistry among all the teams in the eat.
Milwaukee Bucks (24-22)
The Bucks just fired Jason Kidd, so this team can now actually win. Giannis Antetokounmpo will improve this team’s record now that he doesn’t have a coach holding him back. Eric Bledsoe will help improve the teams scoring and the to me, the Bucks are the dark horse team to go to the conference finals.
Washington Wizards (26-21)
This team has lost its identity. John Wall and Bradley Beal are not having the same dynamic that they thrived off of last season. John Wall doesn’t seem his MVP like self as he has been up and down this season. I thought they would possibly be a top three seed but obviously, there are some inner locker room issues that management has to sort out of this team wants to make an impact in the postseason.
Philadelphia 76ers (22-21)
The Sixers have the fourth easiest schedule going forward, so to me, playoffs are a serious discussion. I think once we are all healthy this team will be a seventh seed and even higher. They are (7-3) in their last 10 games and I believe will jell once February comes along. This is a young team, but veterans like JJ Redick will help get them going on winning streaks and could even be a first-round upset spoiler.
Indiana Pacers (25-22)
This has been a shock to me. The Pacers lost their All-Star, in Paul George and looked to be rebuilding. They turned out to get the most improved player in Victor Oladipo to get them positioned to get into the playoffs. They are a streaky team and if they do hit a cold streak they could slip out and not make it in. This seed is a wild card for me I just give them the nod over the Pistons.