15 NBA Storylines To Follow As The Playoffs Approach
15 NBA Storylines To Follow As The Playoffs Approach
As the regular season wraps up, this year's NBA postseason will be filled with plenty of exciting teams and players who will be competing for their chance at a championship. While only 16 of the 30 teams can reach the playoffs and even fewer are serious contenders this year, the other 14 teams will have their own problems to address this offseason.
This offseason will have no shortage of headlines as the heralded 2014 draft class will start to establish themselves during March Madness. The equally heralded 2014 free agent class will be deciding their futures this summer. While these headlines have their own merits, the playoffs have storylines that will help decide who will win the title.
Which players will officially arrive on the scene in the biggest time of the year? Which team will pull a 2013 Golden State Warriors and shock everyone? Finally, who will win it all? These are the storylines that make the NBA postseason one of the more exciting events on the sports calendar.
While we can try to predict which teams will make and miss the postseason, nothing will be guaranteed from this point going forward. Teams that will be consensus playoff locks can slip at the end and miss the postseason entirely, or teams that have underachieved can make one final push to a surprise postseason appearance.
With only 20 or so games remaining in the regular season, here are the storylines that you should look out for before the postseason and during the postseason. Some may appear to be obvious, while others will make you think twice.
15. Can The Washington Wizards Stay In Top Half Of The East?
The Washington Wizards have had a great season so far and are currently fifth in the East, only two games behind Chicago and one game ahead of Brooklyn. Can the Wizards maintain their lead despite the absence of Nene to injury?
14. Will Memphis Make The Postseason?
After the Memphis Grizzlies reached the Western Conference Finals last season, the team is in ninth place in the West just only one game back of Dallas. Can the Grizzlies avoid a playoff hangover?
13. Can Phoenix Make The Postseason?
The Phoenix Suns were one of the teams at the beginning of the season that were supposed to tank, but instead the Suns have had a great season. The Suns are currently seventh, just a game and a half behind the Golden State Warriors and half a game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks. Can the Suns maintain their place in the Western Conference playoffs?
12. Can Charlotte Host A Playoff Series?
The Charlotte Bobcats currently are the No. 7 seed in the East and are only six games back of No. 4 seed Bulls. Can the Bobcats host a playoff series for the first time in their franchise history this season?
10. Can Oklahoma City Find A Consistent Third Scorer?
Since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden two years ago, the Thunder have not found a consistent third scorer to team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Can players like Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb step up in the postseason?
9. Can Brooklyn Win The Atlantic?
After a horrendous start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets have clawed their way back into the thick of the Atlantic division race. Can the Nets catch Toronto and claim the No. 3 seed?
8. Who Wants The Final Playoff Spots In The East?
Only six teams in the East have records above .500, and there are five teams within six and a half games of each other for the No. 7 and 8 seeds in Charlotte, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks. Who wants to be in the playoffs this year?
7. Is Toronto For Real?
The Toronto Raptors are currently the leaders in the Atlantic division. But with the entire division struggling this season, the Raptors are not a consensus pick to have much of an impact in the postseason. Can the Raptors prove people wrong?
6. Can The Los Angeles Clippers Defend In The Postseason?
While the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the best teams in the West and they are only getting better, their defense disappears in major stretches of games. Will their defensive lapses cost the Clippers in the playoffs?
5. Is San Antonio Too Old?
This question gets asked every year, but do the San Antonio Spurs have enough left in the tank for another long postseason run?
4. Can Portland Get Back To Their Early Season Form?
The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the top teams in the league in the early stages of the season, but the team has fallen back to earth. With the other elite Western Conference teams starting to get better, did the Blazers peak too early?
3. Can Chicago Score Enough In The Postseason?
Without Derrick Rose for the rest of the season and Luol Deng out of town, the Chicago Bulls lost two major pieces of their offense. With teams like Miami and Indiana efficient on the offensive end, can the Bulls match these teams point for point?
2. Does Miami Have Enough Left For A Three-Peat?
The Miami Heat will be looking to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, and the wear and tear has taken its toll on the Heat this season. Can the Heat make one more run at a title before the Big Three hit free agency this summer?
1. Can James Harden & Dwight Howard Coexist In The Playoffs?
While the pairing of James Harden and Dwight Howard has worked for the Houston Rockets so far this season, this pairing will be tested once the playoffs begin. Can Harden and Howard coexist when everything is on the line?