There is not long to go in the NBA regular season and the race for the playoff places is really heating up. With only a few teams actually completely out of the running, there is a clamor by the top teams to avoid the play-in tournament. Although there are some others that would do everything they could just to finish seventh to tenth in their conference.
Obviously there is still a lot of basketball still to be played in the next few weeks. But whether you know how to bet on NBA online or not, there are some players that should definitely be part of your postseason plans. How the playoffs go could be down to some, or all, of the following five.
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
When Mitchell turned down his home state New York Knicks to play in Cleveland, it immediately made the Cavs a playoff team. He had done a lot of good work in Utah – and he has shown Cleveland fans why he was so urgently sought after. His record this season has been nothing short of incredible.
The highlight has to be that 71-point haul against the Chicago Bulls in January. It was a Cavaliers record and the highest scoring game for anyone since Kobe posted 81 in 2006. Mitchell’s form is important – if not integral – to this Cavs team and he could even get to show his talent against the Knicks in a potential first round series.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
If you doubt Nikola Jokic’s importance to the Denver Nuggets, you should realize that his MVP award last season was only the third time that a player had received the prize with a team that had posted fewer than 50 regular season games. He is also now on course to win the award for the third straight year.
The Nuggets have hit a sticky patch at probably the wrong moment, but it should not derail the team’s chances of taking the number one spot – and home advantage – in the Western Conference. Now Jokic has the chance to add a championship ring to his ever-growing collection of MVPs. Also Read – The History And Cultural Significance Of Sports Trophies And Awards
Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
The failure of the New York Knicks to do just about anything of note has been a long-running joke for decades now. There has been just one playoff series in the last ten years – with just one game won against the Hawks two seasons ago. But there is an air of confidence around the Garden this year.
The entire Knicks roster is playing much better and the coach has brought through some very exciting youngsters. But it was the addition of Jalen Brunson that sparked real hope. If the point guard can stay fit, the Knicks could even pull off a few surprises in the playoffs. No pressure there then!
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The current Knicks roster may not have too much experience of the postseason but Milwaukee’s main man has gotten used to playing deep into April. He is the last player not called Luka Jokic to win the NBA MVP award – and he won it back-to-back as well as a Finals MVP when the Bucks won in 2021.
Milwaukee is now leading the way in a very congested Eastern Conference and Giannis is, once again, leading the charge. The Bucks should go deep into the playoffs this year too, and it will need a team effort for them to pick up a second championship in three years. But one player is definitely more important than the rest.
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Our final player to keep an eye on in the NBA playoffs was one of the standout stars of last season and looked like he was going to repeat that performance this year. But recent events off the court have put Ja Morant’s ability to help the Memphis Grizzlies win the championship in real doubt.
We won’t go into the incidents here, but Memphis fans must be worried about their star player. He has the ability – and showed it last year – to turn this small-market team into a major player in the NBA. Hopefully he will have the chance to do just that and allow us to watch his talent on the court in the playoffs.