5. Milwaukee Bucks
Of teams comfortably in the playoffs with a week left in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks have provided some incredible moments. In close games like yesterday’s clash with the Philadelphia 76ers, we got to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo in peak wrecking ball form.
Giannis was DOMINANT tonight as the got their NBA-best 56th win.— NBA (@NBA)
In games where they got blown out while going half-speed, we were treated to Thanasis Antetokounmpo minutes.
Thanasis ejected after head-butting Blake Griffin 😳 — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport)
The Bucks don't have any big games left until their final regular season matchup against the Toronto Raptors, which could decide where the Raptors start their play-in journey.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves
As Tom Sizemore (RIP) said in Heat, the action is the juice. And the juice over the last few weeks has been in the middle of the Western Conference standings.
Among teams scrambling in the play-in/playoff purgatory, the Wolves are one of the teams that have provided some fun moments. Sure, they lost their last three games and have plummeted from sixth to ninth in the standings. But watching the Wolves battle stomach illnesses and chemistry issues has been a treat.
Anthony Edwards has been his usual electric self, it’s just that the Wolves have run into some tough matches like the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and a rested Portland Trail Blazers (sans Dame Lillard). If they can win one more game in their final three assignments, they are very likely through to the play-in.
3. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have only had their full lineup for three games but they already look rather scary. Durant returned from an ankle injury early last week and, who would have guessed that he immediately could go on torching teams?
Kevin Durant says GOODNIGHT, Oklahoma City— Shane Young (@YoungNBA)
It hits different when Slim Reaper is waiting on the weakside, doesn't it?
The Suns have Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton. How do you stop that? They are firmly planted in the fourth spot in the West and only really want to take their final games seriously to pick up some chemistry. But no team in the West wants the Suns early.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC continues to go from rebuilding to surging this season. To put into perspective how hard they bottomed out last season, this year’s Thunder squad equaled last year’s win total (24) in early January. Many expected Trust the Process levels of losing. Sam Presti and the rest of the OKC really only needed two seasons, whether they planned that or not.
SGA grabbed a rebound with a shoe in his hand 😭 — NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA)
Aside from Shoeless Shai, the Thunder have Rookie of the Year frontrunner Jalen Williams, last year’s lottery pick Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, and other fun role players like Tre Mann and Isaiah Joe. They’re all young but somehow, this team looks like they have it figured out. They need to win one or two of their last games to seal a spot in the play-in, so this last week should be must-watch basketball for them.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
At the start of the season, I was a lapsed, non-practicing Lakers fan. But the trade made me a believer again.
D-Lo BALLED OUT.— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT)
Career-high 52 points in Minnesota 💦
The Lakers went from having a disgruntled Russell Westbrook with a supporting cast of misfits to having no Russell Westbrook drama and a group of young role players.
LeBron James is healthy again and Anthony Davis is back to beasting. It was never about the fair weather but now there’s no more doom and gloom. The Lakers have four more games this season. If they manage to win all or just three of those, they could be the sixth seed.