Over the next few weeks, the NBA season will really start to heat up. With only a handful of games left for each team, the Playoffs are drawing ever closer. As with most sports, timing and form are crucial in the NBA.
How many times have we seen teams get off to a flying start – only to fizzle out just before the postseason kicks off? Going into the Playoffs in poor form can often spell disaster. To give yourself the best chance of success at betting post-season, you need to know which teams are looking like peaking at the opportune moment, even before the NBA Playoffs odds are published.
Luckily, we are here to help. Below are some of the franchises who are firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason.
Things have not always been easy for the Celtics this season. Luckily, they look poised to pull themselves together at exactly the right time. They won six games on the bounce between 8 April and 18 April, a run that included impressive victories over the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and LA Lakers.
Leading the Celtics charge is young star Jayson Tatum who dropped an incredible 44 points against the Warriors to help extend his team’s winning streak. He is not the only player in fine form heading into the Playoffs either. Jaylen Brown has also been catching the eye by averaging just shy of 25 points per game.
This young core gives the Celtics one of their best chances of securing their first title since 2008 is some time.
Despite being dismissed by many as genuine title contenders at the beginning of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers cannot be ruled out as potential champions. A big reason for this is Joel Embiid.
Prior to picking up a knee injury, the dominant centre was on track to win the MVP award. He was averaging over 30 points per game and was also pulling in 11 rebounds – not to mention his impressive blocks and steals numbers. Since Embiid’s return in April the 76ers have been on quite the run, making them favourites to clinch top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, Embiid is not the only star in peak form in time for the Playoffs. Point guard Ben Simmons has been dropping dimes and crashing the boards, while new arrival Seth Curry finally offers them a threat from behind the arc.
New York Knicks
No one expected the New York Knicks to establish themselves as championship contenders at the beginning of the season. When they took RJ Barrett as the third overall pick in the 2019 Draft they could not have looked further away from a title, winning just 17 games during the entirety of the 2018/2019 season.
Since then, a lot has changed. Invigorated by the talents of Barrett and big man Julius Randle, the Knicks are set to sneak one of the Playoff spots out east, over the likes of the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors.
Putting together a multi-game winning streak in April also suggests that the Knicks will be in a rampant mood heading into the postseason. You have to say, they have done some rebuilding job in the Big Apple.
After seeming destined for one of the lower ranked Playoff places out in the West, the Denver Nuggets have started to turn on the style just in time for the postseason. Winning eight of their ten games between 31 March and 17 April, they managed to move up to fourth place. Jamal Murray and co will only be looking up as well.
In Murray, Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. they possess one of the most prolific scoring units in the NBA. Jokic is looking like he will be particularly dangerous heading into the postseason. The dominant Serbian is posting all-time career best numbers for points, assists and rebounds this season and is clearly relishing the extra responsibility handed to him in offence.
Most thought it was too soon for the Phoenix Suns to make a serious impact in the NBA this season. However, they have defied expectations and risen to the challenge.
Headed up by the free-scoring Devin Booker, Phoenix are set to finish in the top two out West. With the Utah Jazz just slipping up in recent times, some have even selected them as their favourites to grab the number one seed.
Despite having such a young core, the Suns have been remarkably consistent all season long – losing just seven games on the road prior to 19 April. This strength away from home is another potent weapon in their arsenal as the NBA Playoffs get closer.
While the LA Lakers may not have had a particularly fruitful spring so far, in their own way they are still likely to hit form at just the right time this season. This is because their two franchise pieces, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, will return just in time for the postseason.
Prior to the pair getting injured the Lakers looked unstoppable. However, their absences started a slide that the Lakers are still feeling the effects of now. With James and Davis back though, the Lakers’ fortunes are bound to pick up immediately. They might even be considered one of the favourites to win the NBA championship at full strength.