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Rating the High 5 Storylines for the NBA Season’s Remaining Week

Ranking the Top 5 Storylines for the NBA Season’s Final Week0 of 5Joel Embiid and Nikola JokićJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty ImagesJust seven days remain in the 2022-23 regular season, and after nearly seven months of basketball and its #Discourse, you might think there’d be very little left unsettled.Except, you’d be wrong.This year’s closing kick

Rating the High 5 Storylines for the NBA Season’s Remaining Week

Rating the High 5 Storylines for the NBA Season’s Remaining Week

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    Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić

    Joel Embiid and Nikola JokićJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE through Getty Pictures

    Simply seven days stay within the 2022-23 common season, and after practically seven months of basketball and its #Discourse, you would possibly suppose there’d be little or no left unsettled.

    Besides, you would be fallacious.

    This yr’s closing kick is teeming with unresolved issues. From the play-in and playoff races to particular person awards and honors, each sweeping parity and wonderful chaos are reigning supreme.

    Opposite to different seasons, lots of which pre-date the play-in period, there is no such thing as a scarcity of vital most important themes and subplots to observe. To be sincere, there’s nearly an excessive amount of to observe, monitor, distill and rationalize. It may be overwhelming.

    Luckily, there is a rating system for this high-stakes paralysis. It is this one.

    Storylines will seem so as of rising unpredictability, wide-openness and simply good ol’ normal anarchy. These aren’t the one matters value tuning in for; not even shut. They’re, nevertheless, probably the most impactful of the yet-to-be-determined bunch.

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5. Jap Convention Play-In Race

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    Jimmy Butler and Fred VanVleet

    Jimmy Butler and Fred VanVleetVaughn Ridley/NBAE through Getty Pictures

    Many of the drama is already stripped from the Jap Convention play-in race. The Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards are each mathematically alive, however primarily based on the nightly rotations they’re deploying, neither appears significantly concerned about reaching the postseason preamble.

    Nonetheless, 5 groups are jockeying for seeds six by way of 10. And the battles are compelling.

    Sixth place and the possibility to keep away from the play-in match is presently occupied by the Brooklyn Nets. The Miami Warmth are shut sufficient to take it. Neither squad will drop decrease seventh, however No. 6 end (largely doubtless) means teeing off towards the Philadelphia 76ers within the first spherical somewhat than the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks (assuming you survive the play-in). That is an actual distinction.

    Seeds eight, 9 and 10 will go to the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, albeit not essentially in that order. Grabbing eighth place is interesting for all of them. It offers you two alternatives to crack the true postseason bracket.

    Whether or not Atlanta, Chicago or Toronto are literally harmful past the play-in is a separate matter. The Bulls had been tremendous frisky for a minute after signing Patrick Beverley, and the Hawks offense can go thermonuclear. However the Raptors are most likely the scariest of the trio. They’ve a top-10 defense and internet ranking for the reason that commerce deadline.

    How will this bottom-of-the-bracket brouhaha play out? We’ll know in just a few days—with loads of solutions coming as quickly as Tuesday, when Atlanta and Chicago sq. off towards each other.

4. Playoff-Seed Tanking Shenanigans

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    Terance Mann and Stephen Curry

    Terance Mann and Stephen CurryEzra Shaw/Getty Pictures

    Tanking for a decrease playoff seed and a theoretically comfier matchup is frowned upon by the basketball deities, a number of ethereal sources affirm to Bleacher Report. That does not all the time cease it from occurring. Some groups aren’t above making an attempt to dictate destiny and dismissing karma.

    Bracket excessive jinks are probably in the midst of the Western Convention. The No. 3 Sacramento Kings are nearly universally thought-about a steppingstone, despite the fact that they’ve the league’s best offense and an opportunity to rack up 50 wins. This might end in one of many Golden State Warriors, L.A. Clippers or Phoenix Suns Hinkie-ing their option to (or making an attempt to carry agency in) sixth place.

    The Suns have some floor to reverse, complicating any tomfoolery. However they face the Clippers to shut out the common season on Apr. 9. That sport may very well be attention-grabbing—or mega ugly—relying on what the standings appear to be.

    Elsewhere, the Denver Nuggets might attempt to forfeit first place and the prospect of a second-round date with the Suns (presently in fifth). Would the second-place Memphis Grizzlies counter by dipping on the season a little bit early?

    Eleventh-hour silliness is not as tantalizing within the Jap Convention. The Celtics might strive tanking down to 3rd place and arrange a first-round matchup with the star-less Nets. Good luck with that. The Sixers have the league’s toughest schedule and are not about to give up that probability themselves. Boston is healthier off—and nearer to—catching Milwaukee for first if it needs to simplify its bracket.

3. The Western Convention Play-In Race

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    Anthony Edwards and LeBron James

    Anthony Edwards and LeBron JamesDavid Berding/Getty Pictures

    Readability is progressively permeating the Western Convention play-in fracas.

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    No one is realistically inching inside the highest six anymore. The Warriors, Clippers and Suns are far sufficient forward to declare that race over. The Portland Path Blazers, in the meantime, bowed out from the top-10 battle ceaselessly in the past—first by involuntarily sucking, then by intentionally sucking even tougher.

    After a weeks-long dalliance with faux-tanking, the Utah Jazz are lastly married to it. Lauri Markkanen’s left-hand damage ensures they’re going to end beneath tenth—except they stumble into one other accidentally-on-purpose successful streak.

    That leaves 5 groups competing for sixth by way of tenth: The Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder.

    OKC has the hardest schedule of the gaggle and faces each Golden State and Memphis. The Thunder do, nevertheless, have a tilt versus the not-actively-trying-to-win Jazz.

    So do the Lakers—two of them, really. Matchups versus the Clippers and Suns aren’t ideally suited, however one or each may be tanking their option to a three-six dance within the first spherical.

    Dallas is a multitude—a veritable “clusterf**k.” However it finishes the season towards San Antonio.

    Minnesota (Naz Reid) and New Orleans (Zion Williamson, Jose Alvarado) are lacking key gamers. In addition they shut the season towards each other. The Pelicans’ remaining docket is rather less favorable, with (residence) showdowns towards the Kings, Grizzlies and Knicks.

    Predict how this ends on the peril of your individual sanity.

    (My two cents: The Lakers (seventh), Timberwolves (eighth), Pelicans (ninth) and Thunder (tenth) get in. Sorry, Dallas).

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2. 12 months-Finish Awards Insanity

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    Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić.

    Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić.Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE through Getty Pictures

    Sooooo many year-end awards stay up for grabs.

    Coach of the 12 months is locked up by Mike Brown. Congrats to him. That’s the extent of the understanding.

    Sixth Man of the 12 months all the time has loads of choices. Immanuel Quickley has seemingly pulled forward. Malcolm Brogdon would nonetheless like a phrase. Malik Monk, too.

    Most Improved Participant is taken into account Lauri Markkanen’s to lose. What if he loses it? Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has gone from burgeoning star to a full-fledged MVP-caliber. Tyrese Haliburton’s push will likely be short-circuited by whole availability. Desmond Bane’s would possibly, as nicely. Quickley, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will not have that downside.

    Rookie of the 12 months was all sewn up—till it wasn’t. Jalen Williams went kaboom in Oklahoma Metropolis sooner than most suppose. And he shoulders extra offensive duty than many understand. Can that offset the upper levels of problem and quantity hooked up to Paolo Banchero’s total physique of labor?

    Choosing Defensive Participant of the 12 months is a teeth-gnashing proposition. Ought to Jaren Jackson Jr.’s whole courtroom time be held towards him? Is Brook Lopez the true favourite? Will he and Giannis Antetokounmpo cannibalize consideration from each other? Did Miami’s defensive downturn value Bam Adebayo?

    Why within the bleepity-bleeping-bleep is not Evan Mobley receiving more DPOY shine?

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    And, oh, yeah: M-V-P.

    Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić are neck-and-neck in accordance with ESPN’s last straw poll. I am positive #TheDiscourse over this closing stretch will likely be—’command + sarcasm font’—unequivocally productive, by no means poisonous or disingenuous and keep away from inexplicably writing off Antetokounmpo.

1. The All-NBA Massacre

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    Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić

    Joel Embiid and Nikola JokićJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE through Getty Pictures

    All-NBA parameters will change subsequent season. Positions are getting junked, and gamers want to seem in not less than 65 video games to retain eligibility. Which may make this course of simpler. It’s actually excellent news for guards.

    Within the meantime, the All-NBA choice course of stays a massacre.

    Winnowing down the checklist of guards to 6 verges on inconceivable: Devin Booker, Jalen Brunson, Stephen Curry, Luka Dončić, Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, Darius Garland, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Haliburton, James Harden, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Ja Morant and Trae Younger all have instances. I am not even together with Jaylen Brown and Paul George, who will each, fortunately, be eligible at ahead.

    SGA and Dončić are locks for 2 spots. I might wager on Steph and Fox snagging two extra. That leaves two extra areas for the remainder. Yuh-ikes.

    Ahead deliberations are much less brain-bending for those who care about whole minutes performed. That does not make it simple. Brown, George, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Lauri Markkanen, Julius Randle, Pascal Siakam and Jayson Tatum all exist.

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    Giannis, Butler and Tatum are locks. However here is a curveball for the opposite 4 slots: Bam Adebayo, Anthony Davis, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Domantas Sabonis are eligible at ahead AND middle.

    Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić have two of three slots wrapped up. Will voters shoehorn a number of of the opposite choices in at ahead?

    I hate this. And like it. And my head hurts. This closing week goes to be bonkers.

    Until in any other case famous, stats courtesy of, Basketball Reference, Stathead or Cleaning the Glass and correct getting into Saturday’s video games. Wage info through Spotrac.

    Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Comply with him on Twitter (@danfavale), and subscribe to the Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes.

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