Teams are jockeying for position as the NBA playoffs and play-in tournament begin to take shape. The games have not only become action-packed but also must-watch with seeding complications. With a month before the play-in round, here are five teams who were downright captivating for the week of April 11 to 18. Check out last week’s edition here.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies currently hold the eighth seed with a 29-26 record, sandwiched by the Dallas Mavericks (30-25) and Golden State Warriors (28-29). With three games behind the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (32-23), they might end up playing in the play-in round.
But make no mistake, the Grizzlies are more than capable of torpedoing themselves into the playoffs.
The Grizzlies have won seven of their last 10, including back-to-back victories over the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks. Save for a Luka Doncic miracle 3-pointer, they could have easily stretched their streak to four wins in a row.
Led by Ja Morant, the Grizzlies have thrummed into a feisty squad all season long. They have scrappy defense, underrated length at all positions, and a fast-paced style that’s often left opposing teams in shambles. The five-man crew of Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, and Jonas Valanciunas have been killing it.
Sure, some positives have been marred by negatives, and sometimes the progress is slowed down by inconsistencies, but the Grizzlies are a team that’ll throw everything at you, including the kitchen sink.
4. New York Knicks
Riding on a five-game winning stretch (their longest in seven years), the New York Knicks are must-watch TV. Honestly, they’ve been a League Pass-worthy team since the start of the season. At this point, it’s a matter of simply enjoying their incredible run and not being surprised about it.
The Knicks are good but mixed in with a little bit of doubt, flaws, and head-scratching plays typified by a young team, they’ve become the perfect underdog team that fans can root for.
Basketball in New York is entertainment and drama at the highest levels. There’s the star and hero in Julius Randle who is fresh off tying his career-high of 44 points against the Mavericks. From being named an All-Star this season, he’s already looking at an All-NBA selection. There’s the meteoric improvement of RJ Barrett’s shooting, the feel-good story of Derrick Rose, the steady growth of the supporting cast, and the headstrong personality of Tom Thibodeau.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Scenario 1: If you open League Pass and stumble upon a game by the Dallas Mavericks, the first question you probably ask yourself is, “How is Luka doing today?”
Scenario 2: If you open League Pass and stumble upon a close game by the Dallas Mavericks, your first question you probably ask yourself is, “Why am I not watching this right now?!”
Luka Doncic is one of five players that automatically deserves your undivided attention whenever he has a game. He has the allure of a wizard with devilish looks while being an unforgiving assassin with a basketball.
If you need more proof to watch Doncic, revisit his iconic off balance, one-handed, buzzer-beater against the Grizzlies in the past week.
2. Golden State Warriors
Two words: Stephen Curry.
Players talk about being “in the zone” for a game. It seems like Curry has been in that zone for quite some time now. He is on a personal hot streak stretched across multiple games and the numbers are hard to fathom.
Despite the loss against the Celtics on Sunday, Curry had 47 points and has continued to redefine the art of the 3-point shot. He has 20 games of at least 10 3-pointers made and the next closest on the list is backcourt buddy Klay Thompson who only has five. In this season alone, the two-time MVP has five games with 10 or more triples. He has a total of 44 3s in the past five games, the most treys in that span in league history.
Another mind-blowing stat is that Curry became the first player since Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to have 10 straight 30-plus point games at age 33 or older.
Sure, the Warriors are barely hanging on to the ninth seed with a 28-29 record. The team has had a mediocre season and when they play without Curry, the talent level takes a cliff dive. But when Curry is on the floor and he gets going, his shooting performance becomes the greatest show on earth.
1. Boston Celtics
Remember when everyone was questioning what was wrong with the Celtics in the middle of the season? It seems those concerns were eons ago as the Celtics are peaking at the most opportune time.
Boston sits in fourth place with a 31-26 record and has won its last six games.
Ang guess what, the Celtics are playing outstanding basketball behind the dynamic play of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The duo’s captivating moves have a spectrum of being smooth as silk and tough as nails. They’re that good. Only a handful of players have a complete offensive package that can shred defenses and Boston has two of them.
Brown exploded for 40 points against the Lakers on Friday and then Tatum had 44 against the Warriors on Sunday. They are A1 and A2. This isn’t a case of Batman and Robin. They’re both Batmans.
Can the Celtics keep their streak going? Maybe or maybe not. Nonetheless, you can bet Tatum and Brown will be at the top of their game.
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