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The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

Previewing the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

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The 2022-23 NBA Playoffs kickoff April 11th beginning with the play-in tournament. After an eventful season, the remaining teams try to lock in to make sure their squad gets into the playoffs.

Each conference’s playoff tournament consists of eight teams with seeds 7-10 having to compete in the play-in tournament for the final two spots. The Eastern Conference as a whole seems to be stronger and is more tightly packed than the Western Conference this year. Five teams have clinched their playoff spots in the East so far.

Leading and sitting atop the Eastern Conference are the Milwaukee Bucks, who have already clinched their division. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks currently have the best overall record in the NBA. The current No. 1 seed looks to finish the season strong ahead of April 15th.

The Boston Celtics are fighting for the top seed in the East but are currently seated second in the standings. The Celtics have already clinched a playoff berth but still want to gain back that top seed after losing it to Milwaukee recently.

Boston currently has the second best overall record in the NBA while being led by the dynamic young duo in the 2023 All-Star game MVP Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown. Tatum averages 30.1 PPG while Brown is averaging 26.8 PPG which contributes to the Celtics being a top five team in the league in points per game.

Brown sat down for an interview with Stadium’s Shams Charania to speak about his relationship with Tatum.

“I’ve seen him grow as a man. He’s seen me grow as a man. I get why, I guess in a sense, people always try to break up duos or people like that.” Brown said. “So far, we’ve been incredibly successful, and hopefully, we can be even more; (the) only thing that would put the ribbon on top is getting a championship.”

The third team currently seeded in the East is the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia has been led this season by dominant performances from the front-runner for this year’s MVP award, Joel Embiid. Starting guards James Harden and Tyrese Maxey have also been big contributors of the 76ers success as of late, averaging just above 20 points per game.

The Sixers previously won eight games straight including a 46 point performance from Embiid against the Warriors. It doesn’t seem like the 76ers can catch Milwaukee as they are five games back but look for Philadelphia to bounce back from their short losing streak.

Embiid spoke to reporters about if he still thinks he can improve ahead of the playoffs despite having his best season yet.

“I don’t think I’m at my best yet,” Embiid said. “I think I’m trending toward that. I think I have a lot more to give. Defensively, I’m getting there. I’m getting back to myself. Usually, I take another step in the playoffs. The last couple of games have been a huge focus for me. Especially since the All-Star break.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers sit at the fourth seed in the conference. This is the first time since 2018 that the Cavaliers have clinched the playoffs. After trading for Donovan Mitchell this past September, Cleveland has found themselves as one of the better teams in the East. Point guard Darius Garland has come on strong for Cleveland the past two years and has been a big compliment to Donovan Mitchell. Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen have also contributed in a big way for the team making the Cavaliers one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA.

The Knicks have established a promising young core on their team with RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes. Veterans Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson have opened the floor up for the Knicks. Less than a month ago, the Knicks went on an eight game win streak and have been going back and forth since. Now the Knicks are the No. 5 seed in the East.

The Brooklyn Nets on the other hand are finding themselves slipping out of the top six seeds and are battling with Miami Heat to prevent going into the play-in tournament come April 11th.

After trading their two former superstars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Brooklyn has been on a decline. Cam Thomas showed promise at first but hasn’t repeated it since. Mikal Bridges, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Cameron Johnson are three of the players that were acquired in the Irving and Durant trades that have played well for Brooklyn. The Nets have won three of their last four as the season inches to a close.

The play-in tournament was introduced in 2021. This is a tournament of four teams, the No. 7 through the No. 10 seeds. The seventh seed will host the team with the eight seed and whichever team wins will be the seventh seed in the conference. The team that loses will host the winner of the matchup between the ninth and tenth seeds to compete for the final spot in the playoffs. This year the play-in tournament will consist of either the Brooklyn Nets (No. 6) or the Miami Heat (No. 7), the Atlanta Hawks (No. 8), the Toronto Raptors (No. 9), and the Chicago Bulls (No. 10).

With a couple days left, the Eastern Conference is just about wrapped up for the playoffs. After a long eventful NBA season, these teams will battle it out to have the chance to represent the East in the NBA Finals this year.

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