NBA Playoff Teams Most Likely to Face Plant in the Postseason
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The regular season ended yesterday, which means the playoffs are right around the corner. All of the 16 playoff-bound teams are hoping to make it to the championship series. But only the elite teams will succeed and make their mark in the postseason.
It's all about having the best players execute the coach's game plan to pull off big wins in crucial situations. There are always favorites because of successful regular seasons that carry on into the playoffs. But there are other squads that have to work harder because of regular-season losses that lowered their seeding.
The playoffs separate the boys from the men because winning the title is no easy test. There are always teams that don't play well on the big stage against tough competition. This year will be no different. Here are five teams most likely to face plant in the playoffs:
Malcolm Thomas gets blocked against the Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas.
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The Chicago Bulls have exceeded expectations with the way their team continues to battle, even with the loss to star Derrick Rose. They picked up the No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 Brooklyn Nets to start off the postseason.
Players like Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler have had to step up in Rose's absence. Who would've thought that those two players would lead this team with 81 games played a piece?
But there is still a lack of offense at times when the Bulls face up against top competition. Chicago ranks 29th in the league with 93.2 points per game.
Rose not being in the lineup will really hurt this squad when the playoffs come around. They will have to score on a consistent basis and not allow the offense to become stagnant. The Bulls defense has been their backbone all season long, but if it doesn't make big stops, then they won't win the series.
Houston Rockets huddle up during the Sacramento Kings game.
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The Houston Rockets have been successful this season because of their offense and the play from James Harden. Harden averages 25.9 points per game, which ranks fifth in the league. The acquisition has given this team a go-to player that can score from all over the court.
The Rockets' fast-paced offense has been the cause behind many of their wins, but it will lead to their downfall in the playoffs. Team’s offenses generally slow down into a half-court style, which could really hurt the Rockets.
Not to mention, the Rockets have one of the worst defenses in the league. Houston allows 102.5 points per game, which ranks them 28th out of 30 teams.
Defense will be crucial if the Rockets are going to have any shot at knocking off Kevin Durant and the No. 1 seed Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.
Courtney Lee getting defended by New York's Carmelo Anthony.
The Boston Celtics have a lot of experience in the postseason, which will certainly help in the playoffs. That knowledge will be one of their strengths when playing against the No. 2-seeded New York Knicks. But the Knicks have the bigger advantage in this series because of their depth.
At times, the Celtics lack depth because of injury issues that hurt many of the top players in the rotation. Rajon Rondo's injury has really hurt this team throughout the season because they don't have their floor general to help run the offense.
Also, head coach Doc Rivers can't be happy with the current health of his veteran performers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Age has led both players to have day-to-day issues, which has affected their playing time over the course of the season.
If their scorers can’t stay healthy and don’t play many minutes in this series, then the Celtics might be doomed to a first-round loss to the Knicks. Also, the Celtics must contain Carmelo Anthony by making him take poor shots and forcing him to dish the ball off to other players.
Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol meet with head coach Mike D'Antoni.
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This Los Angeles Lakers season has been a roller coaster of drama and emotions. Expectations were high before the season started for this squad because of their stacked roster. According to ESPN, the Lakers were ranked third in the league in the preseason power rankings.
But without a superb run to close out the season, the Lakers wouldn't have even made the postseason. Beating the Houston Rockets in overtime on the final game of the regular season gave the Lakers the No. 7 seed in the playoffs.
Their first series will be against the No. 2-seeded San Antonio Spurs, which will be a very difficult opponent because of the Spurs’ depth. Losing Kobe Bryant will really hurt the team in the series.
Don't expect the Lakers to get past the first round unless both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol dominate and pick up the points lost as a result of Kobe's injury.
J.J. Redick being defended well by Nuggets Center JaVale McGee.
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The Milwaukee Bucks had a poor April filled with losses against mediocre opponents. The Bucks won three of their final 10 games in the month but still solidified the No. 8 seed in the East because of their record.
The April woes will likely continue, with the Bucks getting matched up against No. 1-seeded Miami Heat in the first round.
The Heat aren't an ideal opponent for the Bucks, or many other teams in the NBA for that matter. The guard duo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will have to come up huge if the Bucks are going to have any shot at beating the Heat.
Finally, the Bucks need Larry Sanders to be healthy for the series because he provides a solid defensive threat inside the paint. Sanders has been battling back problems over the last few games. If things don't go in the Bucks' favor, then don't be surprised to see a four-game sweep.