This time that’s it, it’s the final sprint! More than a week of competition with thirty teams, before leaving on vacation for fourteen of them. If some thought it would be quieter to prepare for the Playoffs, well, that’s wrong, because this last week will be decisive for many people. Come on, let’s analyze all of this, conference by conference.
# To the East
On the right side of the States, the battle will be tough until the end, and on all levels. Are we going from top to bottom? Yes the Heat (51-28) currently has two successes ahead of Boston (49-30), Milwaukee (48-30) and Philadelphia (48-30), we will not have to relax anything to hope to keep this oh so important advantage of the field until the possible finals of conference. But the trio of pursuers will also be driven by several objectives. For the first two named, the objective will be to give no respite to the guys from South Beach but also to maintain their position and thus win a choice opponent in the first round of the Playoffs. For the third thief, it will be rather to go scratch this spot on the podium which would avoid, at present, a painful confrontation against the Bulls. Far be it from us to disrespect the Raptors or the Cavaliers, but bumping into DeMar DeRozan and his gang on a seven-game series will probably be far from the kind of post-fuck Sunday stroll with the family. .
In the second part of the classification, Bulls (45-33) like Raptors (45-33) will be keen to win so as not to reduce the distance with Cleveland (43-36), currently the first concerned by the play-in. Speaking of the Cavs, no question for Darius Garland and others to leave a crumb of hope… to Atlanta (41-37). The Hawks will give everything they have left after six months of the season to avoid the ax of the play-in. The Falcons are on a five-game winning streak, so the goal will be to extend that momentum as far as possible. At last, Hornets (40-38) and Nets (40-38) will try to recover this precious eighth place which ensures an additional chance of qualifying for the rest of the hostilities. If it is now impossible for these two to slip out of the play-in, it will nevertheless not be necessary to release anything before next Sunday and arrive with maximum confidence.
Come on, we’re following Route 66 and heading to the Western Conference. And this week will be, like its eastern sister, decisive for many teams. Finally, we say that but for the Suns (62-16) and the Grizzlies (55-23), the program will be rather pepouze. We are not talking about holidays, but the first two places are guaranteed so rest and preparation for the second part of the festivities. Behind, on the other hand, it will be… intense. The Warriors (50-29) will be tasked with retaining their third conference seat, deprived of Stephen Curry. Dallas (49-30) will try to take Golden State’s place, and the Mavs will be able to count on the exceptional form of their leader Luka « Magic » Donćič, decisive last night against the Bucks.
On the darker side of the picture, the Nuggets (47-32) will have the opportunity to finish strong in order to hope to recover the advantage of the field in the first lap. Three matches, two of which against non-top 8 teams, so there is a way to try for a breakthrough. For Jazz (46-32), before thinking about winning, you will have to think about not losing. Authors of a good disasterclass families in Golden State this weekend, Rudy Gobert’s companions are stuck in very stormy weather which really gives us the impression that the maximum possible for Utah this week will be to save the furniture. Having his pivot three-time defender of the year in trade rumors a few days before the end of regular, hello the atmosphere at Grand Lac Salé. All these stories are Minnesota (45-34) who intends to take advantage of it. The Wolves have the opportunity, in the event of no fault and defeats of the Jazz, to extricate themselves from the play-in, which would be a boon for Charles-Antoine Villes and his friends. The Clippers (39-40) are for their part in a rather trank situation, too far from seventh to return and from ninth to leave the play-in, so it will be preparation for the battle for the Playoffs on the program this week.
Special focus to finish on the West play-in. It will be played here between Pelicans (34-44), Spurs (33-45) and Lakers (31-47). If for the last named, the chances of participating are no longer a matter of mathematics that neither you nor we would understand, they still exist. This pushes New Orleans and San Antonio not to release the pressure, and it is recalled that in the event of a tie next Sunday, the men of Gregg Popovich have the tiebreaker against the other two competitors. What does it mean ? That the Spurs will grill whatever happens the priority to the possible competitor ex-aequo.
Wow, the coming week promises to be explosive. No game this Monday, so we’re taking maximum strength for the final bouquet of this regular 2021-2022. Coffee refills, key match schedules posted on the fridge, and everything else to get you with us by Sunday. How do we say ? Oh yes, unmissable!
Ranking sources: ESPN