By Joseph Crevier @JosephMCrevier on March 10, 2014
The 2013-2014 NBA season has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. Some teams have fell way short of expectations while others have surprisingly far exceeded expectations. We are now in the final stretch of the season and numerous playoff spots are still open for grabs. With that said, fans could look forward to what will be some intense, fun basketball for the next few weeks. Here are the odds for each NBA team.
Giannis "The Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo was expected to be the savior of the Milwaukee Bucks this season. However, his game has not translated into wins by any means. The Bucks are dead last in the NBA standings, having no chance of making the playoffs.
The Philadelphia 76ers had the expectations of being the worst team in the NBA coming into the season, and the team has certainly fulfilled them. After a shockingly hot start, Philadelphia went into full tanking mode, holding out players for longer than necessary with injuries. Additionally, the 76ers traded away two of their best three players in Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes at the deadline. The team is now facing a 16-game losing streak.
The post-Dwight Howard era has not gone too well thus far for the Orlando Magic. After earning the second pick in last year's draft, it appears as if the team is headed towards that way once again. Perhaps the Magic are positioning themselves for a playoff run next year as the team should acquire a talented player with a high draft pick this summer.
If we were in 2010 again, when the Los Angeles Lakers were just coming off back-to-back championships, this slide would seem outlandish. Los Angeles is historically associated with winning, but the team has struggled mightily throughout the entirety of this season. Neither Kobe Bryant nor Steve Nash have appeared in more than 10 games, and the franchise is lottery-bound for sure. It's going to be some time before this team contends once again.
On paper, the Sacramento Kings have a pretty solid team. Unfortunately, teams cannot simply be put together on paper. Sacramento has once again wasted another season even with the emergence of DeMarcus Cousins. Major changes aren't needed just yet, so hopefully the Kings will contend for a playoff position relatively soon.
Believe it or not, the Utah Jazz have played much better than anticipated this season. Trey Burke has been a pleasant surprise as well as the Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors front court. Throw in a top-six pick in the draft, and this team may be on to something.
Injuries have played a huge role in what has been a disappointing season for the Denver Nuggets. Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson and JaVale McGee all experienced season-ending injuries and star point guard Ty Lawson also missed some significant time. Getting into the playoffs at nine games out in the Western Conference is like walking through the Death Valley with no water -- chances are slim that you will make it.
The New Orleans Pelicans really shot themselves in the foot last offseason with the acquisition of Tyreke Evans. When at his best, Evans is a sixth man. Such an enormous contract should not be given to a sixth man, especially a deal that spans over a four-year period. This move has caused the Pelicans to sacrifice any flexibility, leaving the team in the bottom half of the Western Conference.
A tanking team should not be able to make the playoffs, right? Most of the time this is correct, yet the Boston Celtics are only four games out of the eighth seed. I doubt that the team will make a playoff push, but anything is possible.
Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers fall into the category of falling way short of expectations. It all began when the franchise botched the first overall pick last summer by picking Anthony Bennett. Since that point, Cleveland has been so inconsistent that it is difficult to see them making the playoffs.
Atlanta started off hot thanks to the front court of Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Unfortunately, the Hawks are only left with half of that duo. Horford suffered a torn pectoral muscle months ago and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Due to injury, Atlanta will likely miss out on the playoffs this year.
Kevin Love has had a tremendous 2013-14 campaign and has set up the team to be in decent position for a playoff push. The Minnesota Timberwolves will need a complete collapse from either the Memphis Grizzlies or Dallas Mavericks, though, to have a shot at securing the eighth seed. Not likely, but definitely not out of the question completely.
Another organization that has fallen well short expectations. Acquisitions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings were supposed to catapult Detroit back into the playoffs, but it has actually caused the team to suffer greatly. The Pistons do not fit together. Major changes are necessary this offseason.
The percentage for the Memphis Grizzlies may be quite low, however, it is going to be a very bumpy ride if they plan on making the playoffs. Memphis has possession of the 8th seed at the moment, followed by the Phoenix Suns who have an identical record and preceded by the Dallas Mavericks who possess the 7th seed. I'm not completely sure if the Grizzlies can produce sufficient offense to withstand the remainder of the season.
Monta Ellis has completely overshadowed his former "inefficient, shot-friendly" persona in his first season with the Dallas Mavericks. He has been the ideal pairing with Dirk Nowitzki as the duo has led the Mavericks to possible playoff contention. Holding onto the 7th seed may be rigorous task, likely resulting in Dallas securing the 8th at the conclusion of the regular season.
Despite their disastrous start, the New York Knicks have the opportunity to grab the eighth seed. Thought the team is currently two games out, don't be surprised to see them squeak into the playoffs. If I were the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat, I would not want to face the Knicks in the first round, that's for sure.
The main reason as to why I ranked the Phoenix Suns above the Dallas Mavericks (who are the current 7th seed) is because star Eric Bledsoe is returning to the lineup this week. Bledsoe is a major piece to the Suns' rotation, so this is the perfect time to have him back on the court, just in time for a playoff push. Phoenix is the Cinderella story of the season, and I wholeheartedly believe that the team is going to will their way in the 7th seed.
This is a tough one to predict because the sixth through ninth seeds in the Western Conference are going to duke it out for the remainder of the season. Golden State struggled when Andre Iguodala was sideline with injury, but the team has played very well since. Therefore, Golden State has the best chance to remain in the playoffs out of the four franchises.
Michael Jordan has finally successfully put together a quality team. What appeared to be overpaying for Al Jefferson in the offseason has turned out to be a genius move. Big Al has lit up the post offensively all season, boosting his team into playoff contention. Charlotte is just about a lock for the playoffs this year.
2014 has been extraordinary for the Brooklyn Nets. At one point, this team was in upwards of 10 games under .500, and now Brooklyn is streaking, currently at 31-30 on the season. The Nets are finally showing to the NBA why they were deserving of such high expectations entering the season.
Something appeared to click for the Washington Wizards midseason. All of the sudden, they were playing like a team, and the devastating injury to Nene has not seemed to faze them. That's partly due to the fact that Trevor Ariza has been lighting it up for the Wizards. He has had numerous career games this season, while also single-handedly willing Washington to a couple of wins.
Another great story this season, the Portland Trail Blazers have emerged as a future championship contender in the NBA. I don't believe that the team can compete yet, but you better believe Portland will be around for a while. The duo of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge is nasty.
Somehow, someway, the Chicago Bulls always find a way to win. No Derrick Rose, no Luol Deng -- and Chicago owns the fourt seed in the Eastern Conference. Center Joakim Noah has proved that he deserves heavy consideration as the best center in the NBA. He has recorded a couple of triple-doubles, in addition to a tremendous game in which he and the Bulls defeated the Miami Heat. Chicago will unquestionably be a difficult matchup in the playoffs.
DeMar Derozan, Kyle Lowry and the rest of the Toronto Raptors have resurrected basketball in Canada following the Rudy Gay trade. Toronto has been able to secure themselves a top-five seed for the playoffs and will be no walk in the park for whoever they face off against.
Finally, for the first time in Los Angeles Clippers history, they have surpassed the Lakers as the most powerful team in the city, by far. Head coach Doc Rivers has successfully transformed DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin into the players that he dreamed of when hired. Both players' defensive potential is now through the roof.
Dwight Howard is back to being Dwight Howard again, after his brief stint as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. His decision to leave Los Angeles for Houston has turned out to be and outstanding one as the Rockets are now considered contenders for the title.
The Miami Heat will always be the favorites until they are knocked off. Back-to-back titles will earn that sort of respect for any organization. LeBron James is still the best player in the world and nothing is going to change that until somebody (Kevin Durant) knocks him off of his throne. Don't worry about the recent skid either, Heat fans. Miami will pull it together.
Questions have been surrounding the Indiana Pacers as of late as the team has dropped a pathetic four games in a row. Indiana has looked slow, sloppy and without answers. It's not time to hit the panic button just yet, but I am a little bit weary at this point.
Kevin Durant has been a scoring machine all season. He has proven that he can shoulder the load when Russell Westbrook is injured, and now it is time for the duo to get back into their old form. Oklahoma City has struggled a bit lately, but I am confident that they will figure it out. It is all a matter of working out the rust for Westbrook.
The San Antonio Spurs never cease to amaze me. Year after year, the Spurs are constantly written off as too old, too slow, etc. Yet every season, the team proves us wrong again, San Antonio sits atop the Western Conference, positioning themselves for possibly the final run with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili as part of the team.
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