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Students discuss NBA playoffs

By Nick Fioravanti, Staff Writer

The National Basketball Association wrapped up its regular season on Sunday, April 14 in thrilling fashion. 

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Over in the Western Conference, 11 out of 15 teams had a .500 record or better (meaning they won half or more of their games). The Oklahoma City Thunder managed to come out on top of that gauntlet of a conference, having won 57 games off the backs of likely Most Valuable Player (MVP) award nominee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie Chet Holmgren.

The reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets locked up the number two seed after a dominant season by current MVP Nikola Jokic. The Minnesota Timberwolves followed closely behind in third, a season in which Karl Anthony-Towns and Anthony Edwards put up fantastic numbers to take the franchise from the basement of the West to the top.

Coming down to the final seeds in the West, Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Pelicans in the Play-In Tournament to advance to the seventh seed to face the Denver Nuggets, a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals. 

The playoff matches in the West provided a lot of entertainment for fans of the NBA the past couple of seasons. 

Luka Doncic’s fifth-seed Dallas Mavericks matchup against the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led Los Angeles Clippers. The winner of that series will go on to face the winner of the series between the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves. Luka and Devin Booker of the Suns have a long history of beef when the two teams have faced each other beginning in the semifinals of the 2022 Western Conference playoffs.

Sophomore journalism major Donovan Gibbs, a host of the sports radio talk show “Shark Tank” on 88.1 FM WCWP, believes the Mavericks will do just fine in the playoffs.

“Expect a Luka Doncic triple double in Game One.”

Heading over now to the Eastern Conference, the level of parity in the conference is much more palpable. The Eastern Conference features two teams who finished with losing records who qualified for the postseason; the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.

The Boston Celtics, who finished with a league-high 64 wins, hold a 14-game lead over the second-seeded New York Knicks. While the Celtics finished with the most wins in the league, they dropped two of their last four games to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Knicks, both teams that they could potentially face in the playoffs.

Although they finished as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, New York remained the hottest team in the last month of the regular season to steal the second position away from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

Led by hopeful MVP candidate Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo, the Knicks had the highest defensive rating in all of the NBA behind coach Tom Thibodeau.

Freshman biology major Dylan Conelli, another host of the “Shark Tank,” is not hopeful for the Knicks playoff run this year.

“The Knicks got lucky this year, they’re going to flop,” Conelli said.

The Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers escaped the Play-In Tournament relatively unscathed, and will go on to play New York and Boston, respectively. The Miami Heat have a history dating back to last season of playing well against Boston, having knocked them out of the playoffs unexpectedly as a play-in team.

Donovan Mitchell’s Cleveland Cavaliers are lined up to play the Paolo Banchero-led Orlando Magic. The Magic were a team that have not played well in the past couple of seasons but have really put it together this season under coach Jamahl Mosely.

Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers are preparing to play the Milwaukee Bucks in a third versus sixth seed matchup which should be very fun to watch. The Bucks fired their coach Adrian Griffin mid-season after winning 70 percent of their games up until that point in favor of hiring legendary coach Doc Rivers. Coach Rivers hasn’t really handled the ship as gracefully as many expected as he won about half of the games down the stretch of the season and lost the second seed to the Knicks.

“Doc Rivers is going to step it up,” Conelli said.

“Doc Rivers is going to put up a stinker, I don’t think he can win in the playoffs,” Gibbs said.

The playoffs will be fun to watch this season, with a bunch of new teams making the postseason this year. 

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