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Playoff Predictions Through the First Third of the Season: Eastern Conference

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Hello Smash Fans! As I am writing this article, we are roughly ⅓ of the way through the NBA season, and as such, I thought today would be a great day to look at the NBA playoff picture and make some predictions on whether or not certain teams will make it in. We are going to go from the 6th seed to the 13th seed in each conference for these predictions for the sake of time and space. With that said, let’s start with the East. Next week, I’ll do the same thing for the West.

6th seed: Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets, to me, not only have a young core but they have a bona fide closer: Someone they can give the ball to in the final moments. Not only that, but with the emergence of LaMelo Ball, it seems like this team doesn’t only have a clear option in Gordon Hayward, but they have a great number two option in the youngest Ball brother. The facts above lead me to believe that they can hover around 500 and successfully get out of the play-in tournament, thus making the playoffs.

7th seed Atlanta Hawks

I actually don’t see the Hawks making the playoffs. Yes, they have someone like Trae Young, who is an all-star and averaging a ridiculous amount of points for someone in their third year, but the rest of that team is extremely inconsistent. In addition, there always seem to be health problems with the players on the roster. When you combine those two facts, I can see them making the play-in tournament, but I don’t think that they can beat the Hornets, the Raptors, the Knicks, the Heat, or even the Cavaliers.

8th seed Toronto Raptors

Honestly, I don’t see them even participating in the play-in tournament come April. They clearly will become at least the sixth seed if not higher, and their rightful place is near the top of the conference.

9th seed New York Knicks

The Knicks have been one of the surprise teams of this year. At the beginning of the season, most people thought that they’d be just as bad as usual. But this year, they seem pretty solid. However, the Knicks don’t have “that guy,” the person who can close games, the person you can give the ball to in big moments. Yes, Julius Randle has been good this season, but he’s not quite on that level yet. With that in mind, I see them making the play-in tournament, but I don’t see them being able to emerge victorious.

10th seed Miami Heat

Just as with the Raptors, I don’t see the Heat in the play-in tournament in April. They started off slow due to Jimmy Butler’s injury, but they’ve been solid and gaining steam since then. I see them rising the ranks of the East fairly quickly as time progresses.

11th seed Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers have been fairly good this season, in relative terms, and I think they will continue to be competitive. However, the Cavs are a really young team and will lose a lot of close games. In addition, I do suspect they will trade Andre Drummond at some point during the season. Both of these factors, along with their average coaching, will lead to them barely missing the play-in tournament.

12th seed Chicago Bulls

As with years past, they’ve shown flashes of potential. However, they’re extremely inconsistent. You combine that with the fact that the Bulls organization is dysfunctional, and you get a team that is in disarray. Not only that, but their best player in Zach LaVine may be moved before the end of the season. Because of that, I doubt they’ll even qualify for the play-in tournament.

13th seed Orlando Magic

The only bright spot on that team is Nikola Vucevic. He’s the only reason they win the majority of their games. Their coach is not great, and although they have some mediocre players, none of them are true game-changes for that team. For those reasons, I think the Magic will not only miss the playoffs but also the play-in tournament.

Thank you Smash fans for reading until the end! If you’d like to talk about this article, go to the contact form on this website and shoot me a message. Until next time, PD Smash signing off!

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