NBA: 5 NBA Teams Who Are Gearing Up for Playoffs Under the Radar
With just months until the postseason, things have started to shape out in the NBA's playoff picture. The favorites to win the NBA title are the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.
There are some teams that will barely make the playoffs yet could have a deep run with their low seeds. These teams have come under the radar because their records are not matching up with the talent on their rosters. However, these teams will need to play really well in the playoffs to defeat any of the favorites.
Here are five teams to watch out for in the playoffs:
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have an excellent team with a lot of talent from top to bottom. Stephen Curry is an excellent all-around shooter who has the ability to put the team on his back. Curry is averaging 21 points, 6.6 assists and four rebounds per game. He is shooting almost 45 percent from three-point range.
David Lee has been a very good complement to Curry. Lee's averaging a double-double and is third on the team with 3.8 assists per game.
After losing their last five straight games, the Warriors needed an All-Star break to stop the bleeding. They need to work on playing better defense and give up fewer points per game. Currently, the Warriors rank 24th in the NBA with 101.2 points allowed per game. If they can play better defense, then they should be able to win more games and play more consistent as a team.
The Chicago Bulls are playing really well, even without Derrick Rose. They are sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Kirk Hinrich has done a good job of being the point guard in the absence of Rose. Hinrich has been averaging seven points and 5.2 assists per game.
Joakim Noah has been a versatile big man on the offensive and defensive end for the Bulls. Noah averages a double-double on offense and two blocks and 1.29 steals per game. Noah is one of the main reasons why the Bulls rank third in points allowed per game.
Finally, Luol Deng has been an excellent scorer in place of Rose.
Once Rose makes his way back into the rotation, the Bulls will be a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. At times, they lack scoring, and Rose's presence would certainly help. The Bulls will be one of those teams to watch out for in the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz are always in the thick of things come playoff time. They currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference. They have been getting good production from a variety of players. There are five players averaging double digits on the season. Al Jefferson has been crucial to this team's success and needs to continue putting up big numbers on offense for the rest of the season.
The Jazz went through a period in December when they lost seven of 10 games. Consistency is key for this team if they are going to have success. They can't have streaks where they are losing and not performing up to their abilities.
Certainly, big men like Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams need to play better if the Jazz are going to have any chance at beating the top teams of the Western Conference.
The Atlanta Hawks are a team that should never be counted out because of their recent history of making the playoffs. The Hawks have made it to the playoffs for the last five years in a row, and this year should be no different.
The Josh Smith-Al Horford duo has continued to excel. They combine for 33.6 points and 18.4 rebounds per game. They need to consistently post those types of numbers if they are going be a tough team to beat in the playoffs.
The Hawks need to do a better job of not losing to weaker competition. In January, they went 7-9 and had losses to the Wizards, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Pistons. If the losses continue, then they are not going to get a good seed and will go against one of the tougher Eastern Conference teams.
The Houston Rockets are a team to watch out for because their team is starting to click at the right time. They currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with a 29-26 record.
James Harden has helped provide boatloads of scoring every game. Harden ranks fifth in the NBA with 26.1 points per game. Offense is one of their strong points. Houston ranks first in the NBA with 106.1 points per game.
On the other hand, their main problem all season long has been defense. The Rockets allow 103.3 points per game, which ranks 29th in the league. Improving their defense will be key for the Rockets to get more victories in the second half of the season.
The Rockets are only going to go as far as their defense takes them, especially in the playoffs, when teams will play more of a half-court offense. If Houston's defense gets better, then they will have a chance at beating other good teams in the playoffs.