The 2023-2024 NBA season is finally nearing its conclusion as we get close to the NBA playoffs. This NBA season has been full of devastating injuries, shocking trades, and plenty of other moves that have shaken up the power rankings compared to what they were at the beginning of the season.

Come with us as we look at the top teams going into the NBA playoffs, discussing their strengths, weaknesses, and what we can expect from them.

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (1st Seed)

The Boston Celtics have been nearly unstoppable throughout the season going on several long winning streaks. Led by the dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, their stifling defence got even more suffocating with the addition of Jrue Holiday, and when you combine that with their potent offence, they are the clear favourites in the East. Coach Joe Mazzulla has instilled a winning culture, and the Celtics are on a mission to bring another championship banner to Boston.

Milwaukee Bucks (2nd/3rd Seed)

Despite Giannis Antetokounmpo carrying a heavy load, the Milwaukee Bucks haven’t quite reached their championship form from two seasons ago. They continue to have streaks of terrible play, losing to teams they have no business dropping games against. 

However, they’re still a dangerous team with a championship pedigree and have arguably the most dominant player in the NBA playing right now in the Greek Freak. We also can’t discount Big Game Dame, as Damian Lillard has a habit of really showing up in the postseason.

Orlando Magic (3rd/4th Seed)

Orlando has been one of the biggest surprises this NBA season, with Paulo Banchero leading his team to a much better record than anyone could’ve guessed. Cole Anthony has also taken some steps to become a decent-caliber point guard, while Franz Wagner continues to impress with his all-around game.

The Magic may not boast any superstars but have a seriously deep and athletic roster. Additionally, their scrappy defence has been a key factor in their success. Coach Jamahl Mosley deserves a lot of credit for turning this young team into a playoff threat.

New York Knicks (4th/5th Seed)

Another surprise team in the East, the New York Knicks, have defied expectations with their grit and determination. OG Anunoby has taken a leap this season, emerging as a reliable scorer on top of his already spectacular defence. Julius Randle had been a double-double machine earlier in the year, but unfortunately, he’s been sidelined with a major shoulder injury.

Nonetheless, the addition of Evan Fournier has provided much-needed offensive firepower. Tom Thibodeau’s signature defensive system has been key to their success, and the passionate Knicks faithful at Madison Square Garden will be a factor in the playoffs.

Cleveland Cavaliers (5th/6th Seed)

The young Cleveland Cavaliers, led by the versatile Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, are a well-rounded team with a bright future and a chance at a deep playoff run.

Their offence is efficient and balanced, with several great roleplayers capable of stepping up on any given night. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has instilled a winning mentality, and the Cavs have the potential to make a deep playoff run this season.

Western Conference 

Minnesota Timberwolves (Tied 1st Seed)

The Minnesota Timberwolves have finally broken through and become a true contender in the West with the addition of Rudy Gobert. Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards have also formed a potent scoring duo, but the “twin towers” of KAT and Gobert have created one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.

Coach Chris Finch has also unlocked a ton of offensive potential in this talented roster, specifically unleashing Edwards and giving him keys to the offence. The passionate Timberwolves fanbase is ready to roar as their team aims for a championship.

Denver Nuggets (Tied 1st Seed)

The Denver Nuggets could very well go back-to-back, winning two NBA championships in two seasons. Nikola Jokić, the reigning MVP, continues to be a force on both ends of the court with his smooth passing and signature Sombor Shuffle.

Jamal Murray’s return from injury has also added a much-needed scoring dimension, while Michael Porter Jr. has emerged as a reliable scoring threat. Coach Mike Malone has this team playing cohesive basketball, and their improved statistical performance reflects their championship aspirations.

Oklahoma City Thunder (3rd Seed)

The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the most exciting young teams in the league. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has established himself as a superstar with one of the quickest first steps in the NBA, and Josh Giddey continues to impress with his unique skill set that seems to grow night after night.

Not only that, Chet Holmgren, the rookie phenom, has lived up to the hype and then some, providing rim protection and outside shooting. Coach Mark Daigneault has fostered a winning environment, and the young Thunder are hungry to prove themselves on the biggest stage.

Los Angeles Clippers (4th/5th Seed)

With Kawhi Leonard finally healthy, the Los Angeles Clippers are back in the hunt for a championship, although playing much worse than many of us would have hoped back in September. However, Paul George has remained a scoring machine while James Harden has really embraced his “floor general” role, a huge upgrade over Reggie Jackson. 

The Clippers now boast a decently deep roster, with veterans like Russell Westbrook and Ivica Zubac contributing valuable minutes. Coach Tyronn Lue is one of the best tacticians in the league, and the Clippers’ experience and championship pedigree make them a dangerous threat in the playoffs.

Dallas Mavericks (5th/6th Seed)

The Dallas Mavericks are always a threat, with Luka Dončić leading the charge, as the Slovenian has proven he can put his entire team on his back whenever he needs to. Dončić’s offensive repertoire is unmatched, and his ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates is almost unmatched. 

Adding to this offensive dominance, Kyrie Irving has continued to provide much-needed scoring, especially when the entire opposing defence is laying into the Dončić. Overall, coach Jason Kidd has done a great job with the pieces he has – it’s just a shame their defence is basically nonexistent.

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