Ranking NBA’s top five title contenders: Warriors ahead of Celtics; 76ers, Nuggets miss cut

With less than a month to go in the 2022-23 NBA regular season, there is still so much to be decided in the seeding races. But however it shakes out, I believe that a somewhat reliable championship picture, albeit a pretty vast one, is starting to develop. 

Below are my top five title contenders as is stands right now … 

Winners of 21 of their last 23, the Bucks look like the best team in the Eastern Conference, at least, as they continue to faze Khris Middleton back into the fold. 

That Milwaukee currently rocks the best record in the league despite the Big 4 of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Middleton and Brook Lopez (who could be the Defensive Player of the Year) starting just five games all season together is a bright-red warning to any and all challengers, particularly if Middleton, who had a season-high 31 in Milwaukee’s huge win over Sacramento on Monday, settles into something closer to his typical production and efficiency in the playoffs. 

Giannis should be getting more MVP love than he is. He’s arguably the single most unstoppable force in today’s game, and the Bucks are loaded behind him. Depth. Versatility. Shooting. In a playoff landscape made up of supremely tight margins, guys like Pat Connaughton, Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen are cut from the classic big-shot role-player mode, and Jevon Carter and Holiday are going to give your point guard 48-minute fits. 

What’s my concern with Milwaukee? Offense. This is a bottom-half unit. They jack up 3s but can struggle to create quality looks in the half court. An on-point Middleton goes a long way in remedying that. If you make Giannis put his head down and barrel through multiple defenders in stagnant settings, you may have a shot over seven games to withstand his relentless force. 

Kevin Durant could miss the remainder of the regular season after logging just three games playing with the Suns, but if any superstar is equipped to come off an extended absence and throw himself straight into the postseason fire without missing a beat,…

Source link : https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/ranking-nbas-top-five-title-contenders-warriors-ahead-of-celtics-76ers-nuggets-miss-cut/

Author : Brad Botkin

Publish date : 2023-03-15 18:40:36

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