The NBA playoffs are only a few months away, and not every top seeded team is a lock to move on to the second round. Here are a few teams we believe could be headed home early:
5. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers have a wealth of talent and chance to make it far in the playoffs. However, they are currently locked in the 5th seed in the East and would not have home court in the first round. That does not bode well for Philadelphia, who are 9-19 on the road this season. If they can’t get a higher seed come April, their lofty expectations could go up in smoke.
4. Utah Jazz
Utah is currently the 4th seed in the Western Conference. If the playoffs started today, they would face the Houston Rockets. They don’t have the fire power to contend with the Rockets All-Star back court, which has them currently averaging over 118 points per game. If they get into a shootout, their stay in the postseason will be brief.
3. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets contain plenty of talent, but haven’t proven to be consistent in the playoffs. A first round match up with the Dallas Mavericks, who haven proven to be a much better offensive team, average over 116 points per game. If Denver doesn’t play at an elite level, they could be in for an upset.
2. Boston Celtics
The Celtics are one of the most underachieving teams in the league. At the beginning of season, they were among the favorites to come out of the East. Although they have a stellar young core led by Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 22 points and seven rebounds on 44% shooting, they have deficiencies at other positions that can be exposed come May.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are stockpiling for a playoff matchup they might not even see. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been efficient in recent weeks and match up well with Los Angeles. If the Clippers show any rust, they could be in trouble. Kawhi Leonard has missed 13 games this season, which could be an issue in the playoffs where momentum is key.