Unpredictable ending

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - May 12, 2021 - 12:00am

Monday next week is the official close of the 2020-2021 NBA regular season.  Picking title favorites at this time would be a hit-and-miss thing as several teams had surprisingly solid runs to the top of the standings.

Philadelphia, with an 8-game winning streak is ahead of everybody else in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris are the Sixer top guns and are all healthy, but we should take notice of rookie point guard Tyrese Maxey.  He could be the team’s x-factor in the post season.

The Milwaukee Bucks are on a 5-game win streak of their own and are just a game behind the second running Brooklyn Nets. 

We had been used to seeing the New York Knicks sent to their graves at this time of year but for the first time since the 2012-2013 season, Julius Randle and company had been crashing through opponents’ defenses en route to a strong 4th place finish in the EC standings.

The Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat are peaking at the right time, specially Erik Spoelstra’s boys.  Don’t count the Heat out just yet.

Over at the West, unfamiliar teams occupy the top two spots in the standings.   The Utah Jazz, leading the way in the conference, had never lost 3 consecutive games this season and are currently on a 5-game winning roll.  Jordan Clarkson is strongly making his case for the 6th man award with a 17.7ppg behind team scoring leader Donovan Mitchell (26.4ppg).

The Phoenix Suns, running second to the Jazz, will be in the playoffs after 11 years.  This will be the first playoff experience for 6-year player Devin Booker and he feels great.  Credit the Sun resurgence to the plays of Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges and the defensive presence of DeAndre Ayton.

The Jazz or the Suns could be the WC’s surprise title contenders.  Utah had two consecutive Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998 but lost both times to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  Phoenix were in the Finals in 1993 but also lost to the Bulls.

The LA Clippers and the Denver Nuggets haven’t been to the Finals but Dallas, Portland, the LA Lakers and Golden State had won championships. 

If the play-in were to start today, the Lakers will play GSW, needing only a win to get the 7th seed and then would face #2 seed Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.  They play the Clippers this morning and with only four games remaining in their schedule, all are must-wins if they want to avoid the mini tournament.  If they manage to get the 6th seed, it will be another Battle Los Angeles as the Clippers are currently seeded 3rd.

Michael Porter, Jr. should be Nikola Jokic’s able scoring backup and I would seriously consider the Nuggets to have a deep run in the postseason considering the additions of Aaron Gordon, Austin Rivers and JaVale McGee.

A Sixer-Nuggets finale?  How about a Nets-Jazz showdown or perhaps a Suns-Bucks battle.  Well, there could be a Laker-Heat rematch.  An unpredictable NBA finale.

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