On March 11th, 2020, the NBA suspended their season.
The NBA is in phase 2 of its restart plan and has now provided significant detail on restrictions and expectations for players and staff members in the coming months. There should be no asterisks to whoever wins the Championship this season. Players are going to be dealing with COVID-19 and a ton of groin and hamstring injuries. Trevor Ariza Davis Bertrands and Avery Bradley told the Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers that they will not be playing in Orlando.
Below are the Sports Whisperer’s top 10 power rankings for when teams return to play.
10) Dallas Mavericks:
With a healthy and well rested Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic, the Mavericks will be a nightmare matchup for teams to stop defensively. In 12 out of his last 13 games, Tim Hardaway Jr. has scored over 15 points. If he can continue to be a legitimate No.3 scoring option. The Mavericks can pull an upset in the playoffs.
9) Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers:
Both teams can be a handful for any opponent. There are rumors that Victor Oladipo could return to the Pacers for the post-season. Domantas Sabonis has been the Pacers MVP. He is averaging 18.5 points, 12. rebounds and 5 assists per game. He is the quietest, most productive player in the NBA. The 76ers team chemistry appears to be non-existent. Joel Embiid is averaging 26 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons are scoring 38 points between them. The 76ers have enough talent to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
8) Miami Heat and Utah Jazz:
Both of these teams are well coaches and have No.1 scoring options who can carry a team for a quarter, a half, or an entire series. Donavan Mitchell averages 19 points per game for the Jazz and Jimmy Butler leads the heat in scoring, averaging 23 per contest. Both teams rely heavily on their home court advantage. The Heat compiled a record of 27-5 in Miami and the Jazz were 21-10 in Utah. There will be no fans in the stands to watch these games and that will hurt The Heat and Jazz. Will Rudy Gobert be an issue with team chemistry? He mocked the Corona Virus disease before testing positive for it.
7) Denver Nuggets:
Nikola Jokic has lost a ton of weight during the temporary shutdown. He has also tested positive for COVID-19. The Nuggets are a good regular season team, but they do not have a legitimate No.2 or No. 3 scorer. In the playoffs, you need an “alpha male,” the Nuggets don’t have that.
6) Toronto Raptors:
This team could be extremely dangerous in the playoffs. Even without Kawhi Leonard, they can get to the Eastern Conference Finals. I just don’t see them getting to the Championship.
5) Houston Rockets:
James Harden and Russell Westbrook should have fresh legs. I expect them to put up great numbers in the post-season. Mike D’Antoni continues to only coach one side of the ball and that won’t be enough for them to win a championship. They could be the worst defensive team in the playoffs.
4) Boston Celtics:
The Celtics could be the best team in the East. Jayson Tatum is the next superstar in the NBA. He is averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Kemba Walker, Jalen Brown and Gordon Hayward can all score 20 points a night. This is a team that can beat you with defense and offense and they will rarely be outcoached.
3) LA Clippers:
When the Clippers roster was 100% healthy, they compiled a record of 11-1. The question will be their health. With an 8-game season and quick playoffs, can Kahwi Leonard and Paul George stay healthy?
2) Milwaukee Bucks:
The Bucks lead the NBA with a +11.3-point differential. The Lakers are second with a + 7.4-point differential. Giannis
Antetokounmpo is having an MVP-like season. He is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. The key to Milwaukee’s success will be Khris Middelton and Eric Bledsoe’s production in the post-season. Brooks Lopez and George Hill could be the x-factors for the Bucks’.
1) LA Lakers:
The Lakers had team chemistry from Game 1. They did this despite having three new starters in the lineup. The Lakers should be the No.1 seed in the West and have an easy road to the Western Conference Finals. Can this team stay healthy for two months? Rajon Rondo and Howard could miss time with injuries. Losing Bradley is a huge loss. If Anthony Davis and LeBron James are healthy, they are the best 1-2 combination in the NBA. Will those two be enough to bring a championship back to LA?
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