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What can we expect from this year’s NBA playoff bracket?

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The NBA season is hotting up with just a third of the regular season left to play before we enter the playoffs. As of writing it is the Boston Celtics who top the Eastern Conference while the Minnesota Timberwolves top the West.

Although not considered among the favorites, the Timberwolves have managed to shock many by topping the conference. Their charge towards the NBA playoff bracket has been spearheaded by a formidable defense which is allowing just 106.7 points per game, the best record in the league.

They are good value for their lead atop the Western Conference, although it remains tight. Boston on the other hand have a considerable lead atop the East and it would take a big collapse to see them enter the playoffs as anything other than top seeds.

We are now seeing the playoff picture take some shape with just a few weeks remaining. For those who are perhaps unfamiliar, the NBA playoffs bracket works as follows:

  • 16 teams qualify for the playoffs, 8 from each conference (Eastern and Western).
  • Teams are seeded upon completion of the regular season based on their win-loss record. The team with the best record in each conference gets the #1 seed, second gets #2 seed etc.
  • Since 2021, a play-in tournament has been implemented for the 7th and 8th seeds in each conference. The winner of the 7th vs. 8th seed game becomes the #7 seed, while the loser plays the winner of the 9th vs. 10th seed game for the final playoff spot (#8 seed).
  • Theoretically, the higher you are seeded, the more favourable your route to the playoffs is (1st seed plays 8th seed in opening round, 2nd plays 7th)

Games are then played in a best of seven series format until the NBA champions are crowned in the finals.


Let’s take a look at the favorites this season.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics were one of the preseason favorites to win the NBA Championship and so far they have lived up to that billing.

At the time of writing Boston are on a six-win streak and sit on top of the Eastern Conference with a 43-12 win-record, the best across the entire league. They have been incredible at both ends of the court, averaging 120.7 ppg with an average points differential of +10.1.

All-stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown lead their scoring charts averaging 27.1 and 22.0 respectively with centre Kristaps Porzingis also averaging just above the 20 point mark.

Boston will come in with a score to settle having fallen short last year in a shock 4-3 series loss to the Miami Heat in the conference finals.


Denver Nuggets

The reigning champions look set to head into the playoffs handily once again, currently sitting fourth in the ever-competitive Western Conference. They have been anchored by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who currently averages a double-double with 26.1ppg and 12.0reb as well as 8.9 assists.

Pair this with the fact he is shooting at a 57/35/81 split, it is clear to see why ‘Joker’ is currently considered the best player in the league and leads the way as favorite for the MVP award. He finally had the supporting cast around him last season as he got his hands on his first NBA championship ring and they look in good form to do so back-to-back in 2024.

LA Clippers

The Clippers are another team who will enter the playoffs in 2024 with a score to settle should they continue their strong form. They fell at the first hurdle last year when they lost 4-1 in the first round to the Phoenix Suns. They have been very strong this season so far however, aided by the performances of Kawhi Leonard.

The six-time All-star is currently averaging 24.1ppg with a shooting split of 52/45/89. James Harden has also been an excellent playmaker for the Clippers this campaign, averaging 8.4 assists per game.

The Clippers should have no problems in making it to the playoffs, though after last season’s disappointment there may be some question marks surrounding how they fare once they get there.

Milwaukee Bucks

Despite their struggles of late, the Milwaukee Bucks are still considered strong contenders for the NBA Championship this season. After acquiring Damien Lillard in the offseason, many Bucks fans rubbed their hands at the prospect of watching he and star-man Giannis Antetokounmpo play alongside each other.

However, while the dynamic duo have lit up the scoring charts as expected it is their defensive woes that have surprised many. As of writing, the 118.8 points they allow per game has them 23rd overall in the league.

Despite this, they still sit third in the east after parting ways with coach Adrian Griffin and bringing in Doc Rivers. It seems many believe the quality of their offense could do just enough to see them reach the finals and claim their third franchise championship.

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