A Tale of Two Conferences: Eastern's Top-Heavy and Western's Wide-Open
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If you look at the Eastern Conference standings, one will find that the conference is quite top-heavy. In my opinion, the Eastern Conference is a two-team race between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics.
The Milwaukee Bucks are in the midst of a 16-game winning streak. This streak has catapulted the Bucks to the front of the Eastern Conference. They have a 1-game lead over Boston in the current standings. The team has solidified itself even more by getting Jae Crowder in the trade deadline. Now they’re in talks to add even more depth to their squad by getting Goran Dragic.
Despite the Celtics inexplicably blowing a 28-point lead and losing to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics are still a legitimate title contender. Other than these two teams, I can’t say that for any other team in the East.
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The Western Conference is a different animal. The conference is wild and it is wide open. If I were to pick a favorite right now, it would have to be the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have a four-headed monster in Chris Paul, Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, and now Jae Crowder. On paper, I don’t think a team in the Western Conference can compete with the level of firepower that the Suns have.
However, I don’t believe that the Suns are a clear favorite because of how injury-prone Devin Booker and Chris Paul are. Based on recent events, it is quite plausible that one of their key stars can go down with a significant injury. If this were to occur, the Suns would be significantly affected because they are not as deep as they were before the trade.
Even though the Denver Nuggets are the #1 seed, I still do not feel they are a championship contender. I feel that teams in the playoffs will key in on Nikola Jokic on the defensive end and get him in foul trouble. I don’t feel the Nuggets have enough depth to win a championship in general. The Sacramento Kings cannot be ignored either. However, I don’t believe they are championship contenders yet.
The Memphis Grizzlies are in the mix as well. However, they have not been the same team since Steven Adams went down with an injury. On top of that, the team has garnered a reputation that has given opponents more motivation to bring their A-game against them on a nightly basis. I feel that is a key reason for their recent slide. And of course, the off-the-court issues against Ja Morant are continuing to mount. It is now being reported that he flashed his gun in an IG live post on Saturday morning. There is no doubt that this will weigh the team down.
The Western Conference is so wide open that the Golden State Warriors have found their way back into the mix in spite of Stephen Curry’s injuries and their underachieving play.The unpredictability of the Western Conference will make for some very intriguing NBA action down the stretch.
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