Seeding is of utmost importance in the NBA playoffs since the upper teams (ranked 1st to 4th) have home court advantage and mental edge over their lower seeded counterparts. However, a higher seeding doesn’t –and will not –guarantee a team a ticket to the next round.
Still remember how the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies limited the top seeded Spurs to two wins in their 2011 shocker? Regular season performance isn’t an absolute barometer for success in head-to-head matches in the playoffs.
The following are quiet NBA teams that can make huge noises once they barge their way into the playoffs.
(Current stats as of 12/4/2016 based on NBA’s official website)
Current record: 12-9 (7th in the West)
Team PPG: 99.5 (Ranked 25th)
Team FG%: 46.4 (Ranked 5th)
Opponent PPG: 94.8 (League best)
Opponent FG% 42.8 (Ranked 2nd)
Needless to say, the Western Conference is a vicious forest filled with predator teams. The Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, and Rockets are considered by many as shoo-in teams for the playoffs. For the Jazz to claim one of the remaining 4 spots, they have to thive in what they do –gritty defense. That’s what their lengthy frontcourts –Gobert, Lyles, Favors –do in every outing.
The Jazz also don’t lack firepower with veteran forward Joe Johnson, Gordon Hayward, and Rodney Hood. If they’re to face the likes of Golden State or Spurs in the playoffs, they have what it takes to pull off the unexpected.
Current record: 10-8 (5th in the East)
Team PPG: 103.7 (Ranked 17th)
Team FG%: 45.7 (Ranked 8th)
Opponent PPG: 101.8 (Ranked 10th)
Opponent FG%: 42.7 (League best)
Milwaukee’s pretty start this season is largely attributable to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s averages of 22.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.2 blocks throughout 18 games. He also has plenty of help from his co-towering teammates like Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe.
Khris Middleton, Tony Snell, and Matthew Dellavedova have been pretty consistent so far for the Bucks. The entire team is holding down opponents with a combination of length, hustle, and intensity.
If Jason Kidd’s team enter the playoffs in the middle of the pack (they aren’t likely to be pushed on the 8th spot considering how scrappy the Eastern Conference is), they’re likely to advance into the second round.
If it’s time to face the likes of Lebron or DeRozan in the Eastern semis, it’ll be interesting to see how far the improved Greek Freak and Bucks, in general, can push the big boys.
Current record: 9-10 (10th in the East)
Team PPG: 103.8 (Ranked 16th)
Team FG%: 45.6 (Ranked 10th)
Opponent PPG: 106.5 (Ranked 22nd)
Opponent FG%: 44.9 (Ranked 15th)
The Pacers didn’t have the start they wanted, splitting their last 10 games, 5-5. However, that doesn’t mean that the new look Pacers (with Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson) will not get their act together. Paul George, who’s posting a stat line of 20.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, still remains to be the leader of the team.
Remember how the Pacers pushed the eventual champion Miami Heat into 7 games? I understand that this is an entirely new Pacers team, but George can lead them back to that position. The Pacers, on paper, are one of the deeper teams in the NBA as a result of recent transactions, so expect them to pile up the wins and eventually scare their playoff foes.
Portland Trail Blazers
Current record: 11-10 (8th in the West)
Team PPG: 110.2 (Ranked 4th)
Team FG%: 45.7 (Ranked 9th)
Opponent PPG: 112.5 (Ranked 28th)
Opponent FG% 46 (Ranked 24th)
Having lost 4 of their 5 starters before the 2015 season commenced, the Blazers still managed to enter the 2nd round and could have reached the Western championship had they avoided the Warriors in the seeding.
Now everyone respects ‘Rip City.’ This season, the formidable backcourt of Lillard and Most Improved Player CJ McCollum accounts for 49.7 Blazer points on average. Hustle players like Ezeli, Plumlee, Crabbe, and Davis make them one of the toughest teams in the league.
The defensive stat may not show it yet, but when it starts picking up come playoffs time, no one will want a matchup against the bruisers of Oregon.
Current record: 16-5 (3rd in the West)
Team PPG: 109 (Ranked 6th)
Team FG%: 46.5 (Ranked 4th)
Opponent PPG: 98.6 (Ranked 6th)
Opponent FG%: 43.2 (Ranked 4th)
When you think of the Western Conference, the Warriors, Spurs, and the Thunder are the more glaring names in terms of accomplishments (i.e., mileage of playoff experience). The Clips never saw a glimpse of a Western Conference Finals appearance except for that instance where they blew a 3-1 lead to Houston back in 2015.
They’re off to a good start once again, but people believe they’ll fumble once again in the playoffs. What makes me think that they can make a huge surprise in the playoffs? They’re a very hungry team, and you just don’t play it easy against teams like that.
The addition of veterans like Speights, Bass, and Felton prove that the Clippers isn’t clowning anyone this time.
The fortune of the abovementioned teams are yet to be seen, but if you’re looking for superior and tested sports uniforms, always count on Wagadoo.