NBA Season Update

As Super Bowl LVII approaches, the crux of the NBA season is just starting to get underway. The league is a little past the halfway mark of the season and the race for the playoffs is heating up. Up to this point, teams have played between 48 to 52 games, leaving 29 to 33 games left in the regular season. 

When looking at the standings, the Boston Celtics are in firm control of the first seed in the Eastern Conference and currently hold the best record in the NBA, boasting a 36-15 record having won seven of their last ten games. For the rest of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat sit in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds, respectively. The New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls hold the play-in spots from the seventh-tenth seeds, respectively. On the outside of playoff contention, the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors are looking to make a big run to land themselves in the play-in tournament.

The Western Conference has been a constant battle for good seeding as the season has progressed. The seeding has been in flux all season, with the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns each holding the top seed at one point. Currently, the Nuggets hold the first seed with a 34-16 record. However, the Grizzlies are right there with them in the second seed with a 32-18 record. As for the remaining eight seeds for the playoffs, only three games separate the third and tenth seed. The Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors hold the third through sixth seeds, respectively, and the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz make up the seventh to tenth seeds for the play-in tournament. Just when you thought the race couldn’t get wilder, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers are all in prime positions to find their way in the play-in tournament. The race to the playoffs should be nothing less than exhilarating. 

This year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) race has been as exciting as any award race in the recent history of the league. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the current frontrunner for the award, averaging 25.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 9.9 assists. This would be Jokic’s third straight MVP award. However, the field is muddied with competitors, as 76ers center Joel Embiid (averaging 33.8/10/4.2), Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (averaging 31.1/8.7/4.4), Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (averaging 31.7/12/5.3) and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (averaging 33/8.9/8.4) have played outstanding basketball as they lead their teams toward the playoffs. Regardless of who wins, it will be well deserved, as each of these players makes a strong case for the award.

From Feb. 17th-19th, the NBA All-Star Break will take place in Salt Lake City, UT. For this game, Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were announced as captains of the Western and Eastern Conference, and, for the first time in NBA history, the team selection process will occur immediately prior to the game’s tip-off. 

The season is starting to heat up as we reach the playoffs. The remaining period after the All-Star break is said to be the most crucial time of the NBA season because this is when teams begin to fully lock in on their goal of a playoff berth. As we venture closer and closer to the playoffs, I can only imagine the excitement we NBA fans will have watching everything unfold.