Fight for NBA Playoff spots heats up

Cate Phipps, Humor Editor

With an intensely condensed season due to last year’s delayed playoffs, no NBA team has had it easy, and it will only get harder in the coming weeks as they fight for their championship rings. 

Last year, the Lakers were the first seed in the Westen Conference and emerged from the NBA Bubble victorious. While the team was off to an excellent start, their stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James have recently suffered injuries, causing hopes for back-to-back championship titles to dwindle. Although both players have carefully started to re-enter the rotation, the Lakers have lost 8 of their last 11 games, and will likely have to fight for a playoff spot in the play-in tournament. With a currently fragile roster, it’s unlikely they will make it very far.

The current top dogs of the Western Conference – and arguably the NBA – are the Utah Jazz. They’ve had the best record in the entire league – 50 wins, 19 losses – for the majority of the season. However, they aren’t entirely in the clear; the Phoenix Suns have the second-best record in the league, and they have beat the Jazz in all three of their regular season games. While the Jazz have proven themselves to be an excellent team, were they to face the Suns in the playoffs, Phoenix has proven that they are more than capable of beating Utah. It’s likely that these two teams will face off in the Western Conference finals, and history is on the Suns’ side. 

While their record isn’t quite as threatening as Utah and Phoenix, the Brooklyn Nets’s roster most definitely is. All eyes have been on them this season, mainly because of their ridiculous star-power—Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden make their lineup look similar to an All-Star game. Whereas the Lakers have been suffering due to injuries, the Nets have been able to carry on smoothly while some of their players are injured because they have a wide array of superstars that can make up the difference. They’re likely to win the Eastern Conference Finals and could unsurprisingly take the Championship with the kind of games they put together when their roster is healthy.

While their records may not show it, two unexpected underdogs may pose a serious threat to the teams previously mentioned: the New York Knicks and your very own Portland Trailblazers. While the New York Knicks have made it to the playoffs only three times in the last 15 seasons, they’re currently fighting to break the tie for the number 4 seed in their conference, which would give them a home-court advantage in the first round. Similarly, the Trailblazers are fighting to break a tie for the 5th seed in the loaded Western Conference, which would keep them out of the play-in tournament. After a disappointing five-game losing streak, they’ve won eight of their last nine, finally finding some consistency in an up-and-down season—and restoring hope to Rip City.