NBA Playoffs: Series updates and teams to watch


Megan McKay, Staff writer

The NBA playoffs postseason has officially begun and the team to beat are the defending champions and the once dominant force: the Golden State Warriors.
The playoffs are made up of 16 teams who will be faced with four rounds of a seven game series format to determine the new 2023 champ.
The top six teams in each conference automatically qualified for the playoffs but the teams sitting on the cut had to participating the NBA’s play-in tournament to determine the final two teams in each conference. The play-in tournament concluded last week as the Lakers and Atlanta earned the 7th seed, and the Timberwolves and Heat earned the 8th seed. Ultimately Chicago, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Toronto were eliminated from any playoff contention. The lower seeds will all go on to face the highest seeds which include the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and Memphis Grizzlies.
However, despite seeding the playoffs are any teams game especially for many of the lower seeds looking to produce upsets.
The first rounds of the playoffs are still taking place and the current standings right now are; Heat(8) vs Bucks(1) series tied 1-1, Cavs(4) vs Knicks(5) series 1-2 NY, 76ers(3) vs Nets(6) series 3-0 Brooklyn, Celtics(2) vs Atlanta(7) series 2-1 Boston, Nuggets(1) vs Minnesota(8) series 3-0 Denver, Suns(4) vs Clippers(5) series 2-1 Phoenix, Kings(3) vs Warriors(6) series 2-1 Sacramento, and Grizzlies(2) vs Lakers(7) series tied 1-1.
Each series has clearly been a close matchup with an exception of a few who have struggled to secure their first win. It is interesting to note that for the first time all four California teams are in the playoffs; the Clippers, Warriors, Lakers, and Kings. The Sacramento Kings are also in the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons which is a remarkable achievement.
The Kings hold the 3 seed in the western conference and this season are 48-24. The franchise also won its first Pacific Division title since 2003. The Kings have held the longest playoff drought streak in all of sports but after their recent berth ended the long awaited record. With the monkey off Sacramento’s back this makes the Kings a team that everyone in all sports will be rooting for. On the other end of the spectrum is the Golden State Warriors who have won four of their seven NBA Championships in the past eight seasons.
The returning champions have not had their best season but were able to secure their playoff spot after a late push in the regular season. The Warriors have struggled with a season of misfortune as they had to play most the season without their star players. Stephen Curry missed most of the season with a broken hand, and Klay Thompson has yet to play a game due to a torn ACL. The Lakers also had a troubling start to the season and off the skin of their teeth were able to secure a playoff spot even with Lebron James’ historic and record breaking season. The Clippers, however, have had a strong season and sit at the 5 seed but will be missing Paul George after he suffered a knee injury and is expected to miss the first round. The Clippers will also be missing Kawhi Leonard who also ruled out due to a knee sprain. The 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies have had a handful of injuries in just the first round including Ja Morant who suffered a hand injury, Steven Adams with a knee injury, and Brandon Clarke is out for the season after tearing his Achilles.
The Miami Heat will be missing Tyler Herro after he broke two fingers in game one against Milwaukee. Milwaukee will be missing Giannis Antetokounmpo who suffered a lower back contusion in game 1.
Injuries aside, the 2023 NBA playoffs have been full of excitement and the teams to watch are the Celtics and Bucks. The Boston Celtics have become a strong team to watch and root for especially in their current series against Atlanta. Trae Young of the Hawks has struggled to put up any offense so far against the dominant 2 seed. Heading into the playoffs Milwaukee was chosen to be the favorite to win the title after passing the Celtics in the standings but the Celtics cannot be overlooked.
Boston ranks second overall in both offensive and defensive rating which gives them the all around advantage over a team like the Bucks. After a run to the finals last season the Celtics look better than ever as Derrick White, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown have been terrific thus far.
However, for the Bucks even without their star player they have shown their depth after going down in the series against the Miami Heat. Bobby Portis has stepped into the lineup for Antetokounmpo and playoff veterans Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder have contributed to the depth the Bucks needed.
The current odds for the NBA title are in favor of the Boston Celtics who are +550 followed by the Milwaukee Bucks +600 and Golden State Warriors +650. The Sacramento Kings odds are shockingly +25,000.