The 2019-20 NBA playoffs concluded with the Los Angeles Lakers winning their 17th championship. And the Lakers were right in the mix of the postseason race during the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season.
However, thanks to injuries to key players, the Lakers find themselves trying to avoid falling into the No. 7 spot, which would result in them participating in the play-in tournament to qualify for the postseason.
The 2021 NBA playoffs are right around the corner. Here’s a list of teams that we want to see go on a deep postseason run.
Meanwhile, the LA Clippers have the third-best record in the Western Conference and these two teams could possibly meet in a first-round matchup. Although the chance of this cross-town rivalry has garnered a ton of attention, there are a few other teams looking to make their case as potential championship contenders as well.
With that being said, here’s a look at three teams that we want to see have a deep playoff run this year.
3. New York Knicks
New York Knicks fans have not had a lot to cheer about over the past several seasons. For example, the team’s last playoff appearance occurred back in 2012-13. That season, they won 54 games. Since that time, though, they have failed to make it to the playoffs. Not only that, the Knicks haven’t won more than 37 games in any season during that span. This NBA season has been an entirely different story for the franchise. They currently have the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. And they are ranked first in points allowed per game (104.7) and they have the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA (108.3 per 100 possessions). Simply put, head coach Tom Thibodeau has a positive impact on this squad. Although it has been a while since this team has played meaningful basketball in May, the Knicks won’t be an easy out when the NBA playoffs begin.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Unlike the Knicks, the recent history for the Philadelphia 76ers hasn’t been awful. The good news is they’ve reached the postseason in each of the last three NBA seasons. Unfortunately, they haven’t had a ton of success once they’ve gotten there. In 2017-18, they fell to the Boston Celtics in five games in the conference semifinals. They followed that up with another loss in the conference semifinals at the hands of the eventual champion Toronto Raptors.
Additionally, last year’s playoff run was very short-lived as the 76ers were ousted in the first round by the Celtics. With Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level and Ben Simmons establishing himself as one of the better defenders in the NBA, the Sixers have supplanted the Brooklyn Nets as the best team in the Eastern Conference. And as long as they remain healthy, a run to the Eastern Conference finals is very possible.
1. Phoenix Suns: Our NBA playoffs darling
The Phoenix Suns were one of the most interesting teams in last year’s NBA bubble. They won each of their eight games, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get into the playoffs. But for those who thought their ending to last season was an aberration, shame on you.
With the acquisition of veteran point guard Chris Paul, combined with Devin Booker continuing to play at an All-Star level, not only do the Suns have the second-best record out west, they have the second-best record in the NBA as well (47-19).
Sure, it’s been a bit since the Suns have been in the postseason. In fact, their last appearance took place back in 2009-10, which seems like a lifetime ago for the team’s fanbase. Considering it’s been a decade since they’ve been here, it’s safe to say that the Suns are the one team everyone wants to see go deep into the NBA playoffs.
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