The N.B.A.’s playoffs are set to start on Saturday, but before you pour your energy into predicting who will win the conference finals, we have a few words of advice: don’t bother! Although there is plenty to watch this postseason and it’s all more captivating than ever due to its playoff format, you may want to skip over everything in favor of watching for what actually matters–the NBA draft lottery with about one month left until the 2018 event!.
The “when is nba playoffs 2021” is a question that has been asked many times before. The next NBA Playoffs are in 2021, but the dates have not yet been announced.
The NBA playoffs are finally here. Despite dealing with waves of the coronavirus, the NBA’s season was the most routine it has been in three years. It was the first time since the 2018-19 season that the team played all 82 games.
The season has also produced the league’s most wide-open title battle in a long time. The playoff seedings were decided on the penultimate day of the season, and neither conference had a clear favorite.
Almost every playoff squad has seemed to be a legitimate contender for a championship at some time. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on the floor in the playoffs for the first time since 2019, the Golden State Warriors are looking to reclaim their previous greatness. The Nets will attempt to save their superteam by putting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the court. With a repeat title, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are attempting to create their own dynasty, while other clubs, such as the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies, are hopeful that the next generation of players will carry them to the top.
There are several chances for atonement as well. The Philadelphia 76ers, led by Joel Embiid and James Harden, will aim to put years of postseason disappointment behind them. Chris Paul, one of the best point guards in NBA history, is pursuing his first championship ring with the Phoenix Suns after coming so close last season.
After the Los Angeles Lakers ended with the 11th-best record in the Conference of the West, LeBron James will be watching the playoffs from home.
The first-round matches are listed here.
In the Eastern Conference,
The No. 1 Miami Heat take on the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks.
The heat is scorching. They squabble. They compete against one another. As seen by Jimmy Butler’s meltdown last month in a home defeat to Golden State, they get dangerously close to fisticuffs in full face of the public. However, they have managed to emerge as the Eastern Conference’s top seed, and they have a much more complete squad than they had last season, when the Bucks swept them in the first round of the playoffs.
The Heat have a fantastic bench headlined by Tyler Herro, the likely frontrunner for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, who has been bolstered at the point by the signing of Kyle Lowry. After missing the most of the season, Victor Oladipo scored 40 points in the team’s regular-season finale, demonstrating that he may be an X factor in the playoffs.
Butler, on the other hand, may need to shoot better than 23.3 percent from outside the arc in the playoffs. But he can elevate his game — who can forget his show-stopping performance in the Heat’s improbable run to the N.B.A. finals in 2020? — and he’s a ruthless defender.
By beating the Hornets and Cavaliers in the play-in round, the Hawks earned the eighth seed, and Trae Young is a fantastic scorer. However, they are unlikely to be able to compete with the Heat in a seven-game series.
Boston Celtics (No. 2) vs. Brooklyn Nets (No. 7)
Not long ago, the Celtics were a mediocre squad. Consider the scenario in late January, when Boston’s record dipped to 23-24 after a home defeat to Portland, prompting fans and commentators alike to wonder whether it was time to destroy the team’s youthful core: Could two of the league’s best young players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, create the perfect kind of connection to lead the Celtics to a long playoff run? Even getting to the playoffs looked unlikely at the moment.
Since then, Tatum and Brown, as well as the rest of the team’s upstart ensemble, have mostly hushed their detractors. In Ime Udoka’s first season as head coach, the Celtics finished the regular season with a 28-7 record in their last 35 games, making them the hottest team in the NBA. They defend and score while also scrapping and hustling.
All of those things will undoubtedly be required against the Nets, whose roller-coaster season might have been a Coney Island display. However, while Kyrie Irving will be able to play in home games after New York City relaxed vaccination rules, and Kevin Durant remains the most dynamic scorer on the planet, the Celtics have been far more consistent in recent weeks — and their top-ranked defense, even without shot-swatting center Robert Williams, will pose a stiff challenge. After a shaky start, the Celtics look to be ready for the postseason.
Milwaukee Bucks No. 3 vs. Chicago Bulls No. 6
As the season came to an end, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Chicago Bulls had polar different seasons, with the Bucks finishing 15-7 after the All-Star break and the Bulls going 8-15.
Injuries and coronavirus infections have hampered the Bulls. Lonzo Ball has been sidelined with a knee ailment since January; second-year forward Patrick Williams has been out for almost five months; and guard Alex Caruso has missed 35 games due to a foot injury and then a wrist issue.
DeMar DeRozan, who was acquired from the Spurs in a free agency sign-and-trade last summer, has been a bright light for the Bulls. DeRozan is averaging a career-high 27.9 points per game in his 13th NBA season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award, leads the Bucks. This season, Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-high 29.9 points per game and has been particularly effective against the Bulls, scoring 30 points in the first meeting and 34 in the second.
Milwaukee’s health is also improving just in time for the playoffs. Brook Lopez, who had been out since the second game of the season due to a back ailment, returned about a month ago.
To overcome the Bulls, the Bucks should be able to take advantage of their improved health and momentum moving into this game.
Philadelphia 76ers (4th) against. Toronto Raptors (5th).
The last time these teams faced off in the postseason, Kawhi Leonard broke the Sixers’ hearts by rimming in a Game 7 buzzer-beater to send Toronto to the In the Eastern Conference, finals in 2019.
Although Leonard has since joined the Clippers, Philadelphia will have an opportunity to avenge themselves, headed by center Joel Embiid, who is currently one of the NBA’s most formidable players and a leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award.
Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia’s finest defensive guard, will be unable to play in Toronto due to his lack of complete coronavirus vaccination. Because the Raptors are a perimeter-oriented club, this is a critical defeat for Philadelphia. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr., and Scottie Barnes, among Toronto’s finest players, can all handle the ball and tear through defenses. To stop them, Philadelphia will have to think outside the box.
To overcome their sluggish start, the Raptors went on a 14-4 run to complete the season. Despite Embiid’s domination, Philadelphia was neither a top-10 offensive or defensive team, and they suffered when he was not on the court.
This takes us to James Harden, who was traded from the Nets to the 76ers in the middle of the season. Harden has had a good season in Philadelphia, averaging 21 points and 10.5 assists per game. He attempts 8.9 free throws each game on average. Harden, on the other hand, has a history of playoff flops (40.2 percent from the field, 32.6 percent from three).
If the Sixers are to win, Embiid will need assistance, which Harden must supply. But, of all the matches, this one has the most potential for an upset.
Conference of the West
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans, No. 1 vs. No. 8
Phoenix has ripped through its schedule, aiming to improve and learn from a season that concluded in a defeat to the Bucks in the finals in 2020-21. In November, the Suns went unbeaten, 13-1 in January, and 13-2 in March.
This season, they established a franchise record with 64 victories.
Phoenix is headed by Devin Booker, a 25-year-old shooting guard who scored a career-high 26.8 points per game, and Chris Paul, a 36-year-old point guard who averaged 14.7 points and a league-best 10.8 assists this season.
Forward Mikal Bridges is a strong candidate for defensive player of the year, while Monty Williams was voted coach of the year for the second year in a row by the National Basketball Coaches Association.
The Suns are on a mission to win their first title, and they’re certain they can do it no matter who they face.
They’ll play the New Orleans Pelicans, who created an unexpected road to the playoffs by winning two games in the play-in round after placing ninth in the Western Conference.
At the trade deadline, the Pelicans acquired guard CJ McCollum, who had spent his whole career in Portland since being drafted in 2013. Since the All-Star break, the Pelicans have had the seventh-best record in the Conference of the West. An upset here is unlikely, as the Suns’ talent and experience should overwhelm the Pelicans.
Memphis Grizzlies No. 2 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves No. 7
The Timberwolves acted as if they had just won the title after winning a play-in game on Tuesday night. After all, why not? Before their triumph against the Clippers, this franchise has only entered the playoffs once since 2004.
Minnesota will be rewarded by facing the entertaining and surging Grizzlies. The most astonishing statistic about them is that their greatest player, Ja Morant, was injured for 25 games, yet Memphis finished 20-5 during that time. The Grizzlies matched for the most victories in team history this season with 56, led by a dynamic trio of Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jarvis Jackson Jr.
Morant, who averaged 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game this season, has emerged as a distant contender for the Most Valuable Player Award. However, he struggled against Minnesota: He averaged 20 points and shot 33.8 percent from the field in four games, his lowest percentage against any club this season. Patrick Beverley of the Timberwolves, who is notorious for getting under his opponents’ skin, will most likely defend him.
The Grizzlies will also have to deal with Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards, who form a three-headed offensive monster. Edwards is a fierce rim attacker with a knack for making huge shots, while Towns is one of the finest shooting centers in NBA history.
This will be a race to the finish. Both clubs have one of the quickest offenses in the NBA and are always looking to push the ball. With two victories each, they shared the season series. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have a more talented roster and home-court advantage. The Grizzlies should win this one unless the Timberwolves’ top players have a scoring explosion.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets, No. 3 vs. No. 6
Many of the more fascinating topics in this tossup series have to do with availability: Will Stephen Curry be close to full strength for the Golden State Warriors? Will Denver’s Jamal Murray make a spectacular comeback?
Curry returned to practice this week for Golden State after missing the last 12 games of the regular season due to a strained ligament and bone bruise in his left foot. Without him, the team was all over the place, losing a lot before regaining its footing and winning five consecutive games to secure the No. 3 spot. For the first time since 2019, a full roster — including Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, three parts of the team’s championship core — may wreak havoc in the playoffs.
Doubt the Nuggets — and their all-around center Nikola Jokic, the league’s reigning most valuable player — at your risk. Denver has won three of its four regular-season matchups with Golden State, and Murray, who has not played this season due to knee surgery, might play. His return after such a lengthy absence would almost certainly provide a psychological lift to the squad, if nothing else. The Nuggets may need all the assistance they can get against a title-winning club.
The fourth-placed Dallas Mavericks will face the fifth-placed Utah Jazz.
For numerous years, the Jazz have been competitors, but they have yet to break through. Despite having the best record in the Western Conference previous season, they were eliminated in the second round by the Clippers.
They’re going into the playoffs under scary circumstances this season. In late March, the Jazz embarked on a five-game losing run, the last setback coming in a game when they had previously led the Clippers by 25 points. A 14-point defeat against the Mavericks was also part of the run.
Rudy Gobert, a frequent contender for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, has averaged 15.6 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game, while Donovan Mitchell has led the club with 25.9 points per game.
At the trade deadline, the Mavericks restructured their roster, trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.
It seems to have been successful. They came back strong late in the season, winning nine of their last 11 games.
Luka Doncic, who has averaged 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game this season, has been a significant part of their success.
After straining his calf in the Mavericks’ last regular-season game, Doncic’s future is in doubt. Without Doncic’s injury, the Mavericks would have been the obvious favorites, but if Doncic’s ailment lingers, the Jazz may be able to flip things around.
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