Shif stephen curry game used jersey ting odds and parity: Predicting final order, seeds in wide

They’ve somehow managed to keep it together, thanks mostly to the brill golden stat warriors jersey t3 e warriors stephen curry 75th anniversary jersey iance of DeMar DeRozan. He has been by far the most clutch player in the league so far, helping them ste Marc Gasol al a ton of wins. The Bulls won

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With a little more than a quarter of the season left, the biggest source of intrigue is how the playoff race in the Eastern conference will shape up. There are going to be exactly zero easy matchups: Only five games separate the 1-7 teams. The No. 8 Nets are lagging a few games behind the rest of the pack, but they’re also only a hair behind the Bucks as Vegas’ pick to eventually come out of the East.

Health and luck are going to be the two biggest components in final seeding, because many of these teams are evenly matched. Based on what Vegas is saying, the league has a tremendous amount of parity as compared with previous seasons at the All-Star break. 

There are multiple factors that I looked at — wins banked, injuries, strength of schedule (via Tankathon), tiebreaker scenarios, and models by FiveThirtyEight and Kevin Ferrigan — to try to make some guesses on how this thing shakes out. To reiterate, health and luck are going to be paramount, but here are my guesses. 

1. Miami Heat

Current Standings: T-1st | FiveThirtyEight: 1st | Ferrigan: 1st | Strength of Schedule: 3rd

This is the prediction that I feel the most confident in: The Heat will have the best record in the East by season's end. They have been banged up all season, yet still somehow find themselves in first place in the conference. There are some guys still dealing with nagging injuries: Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Dewayne Dedmon and Caleb Martin. Victor Olaidipo is rehabbing in the G-League, and Markieff Morris is out indefinitely with neck issues. But aside from Morris, they should be mostly healthy after the All-Star break warriors jersey 30 kids

Their remaining schedule isn’t too bad, and they’re a lot better than their current record indicates. They also will definitely win their division, which gives them a major advantage in multi-way tiebreakers scenarios. 

2. Philadelphia 76ers

Current Standings: T-3rd | FiveThirtyEight: 3rd | Ferrigan: 7th | Strength of Schedule: 5th

This is where I could look like a genius or a fool. There is no team with a wider spread than the Sixers. 

The Sixers traded away important depth to acquire James Harden. Andre Drummond was the best big man Joel Embiid ever played with, and they don’t really have much to replace him. And the version of Harden who was playing for the Nets looked pretty Lonzo Ball bad. 

I’m more optimistic on the Sixers than most, though, because I think that Harden can get back to a top-10 player in the league. He didn’t look the same physically as before, and that is going to be tough to change. But he also had horrendous effort and conditioning problems. This might be his best shot at winning a title. I am hopeful that his internal motivation will get better. 

The most important reason that I am high on the Sixers is because of how remarkable Embiid has been. He dragged his team sans-Harden to a big win over the Bucks before the All-Star game, and he has been a consensus top-two player in the league this season. They’ve already banked a ton of wins, and I expect them to keep that pace. 

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3. Cleveland Cavaliers

Current Standings: T-3rd | FiveThirtyEight: 6th | Ferrigan: 3rd | Strength of Schedule: 2nd

The Cavs have a cakewalk schedule through the rest of the season and have been an extremely solid team. They lost key contributor Ricky Rubio in late December, which I thought would kill them. Instead, they’ve gotten even better. Their health situation is relatively good. Collin Sexton is out for the year with a knee injury, but they should be getting Lauri Markkanen back after a nasty ankle turn that kept him out for a few weeks. 

The addition of Caris LeVert is going to be interesting. He does address a lot of their shot-creation issues, but he hasn’t been able to make shots yet. 

One thing is for certain: That defense is for real. 

4. Chicago Bulls

Current Standings: T-1st | FiveThirtyEight: 5th | Ferrigan: 5th | Strength of Schedule: 7th

The Bulls have been hammered by injuries all year. They should be getting their guys back slowly but surely for the closing stretch. Zach LaVine got good news regarding his knee and should be good to go. They will also be getting Patrick Williams (wrist) before the end of the regular season, and defensive stalwarts Alex Caruso (wrist) and Lonzo Ball (knee) are slated for returns in March. 

They’ve somehow managed to keep it together, thanks mostly to the brill golden state warriors stephen curry 75th anniversary jersey iance of DeMar DeRozan. He has been by far the most clutch player in the league so far, helping them ste Marc Gasol al a ton of wins. 

The Bulls won five straight heading into the All-Star break, but it was against fairly soft competition. Every game has been a shootout with their defensive aces hurt. Their remaining schedule will be brutal, and outscoring teams every night can't always work. I expect t stephen curry jersey youth on sale hem to drop a bit in the standings but remain dangerous come playoff time when they get back to full strength. 

5. Boston Celtics

Current Standings: 6th | FiveThirtyEight: 4th | Ferrigan: 2nd | Strength of Schedule: 6th

No team has been hotter than the Celtics. Their trade acquisitions of Daniel Theis and Derrick White only strengthen their newly formed defensive juggernaut iden steph curry infant jersey tity. 

The Celt NBA Pet Gearics struggled mightily out of the gate this year. Things changed for them when coach Ime Udoka altered their switch-heavy defensive scheme to make center Robert Williams III more of a roaming free safety. Williams now hides on weaker offensive players so that he can help clean up plays at the rim. 

They have been far and away the best defense in the league since that change. They’ve also been winning a ton, racking up 11 in their past 13 games coming into the break. They may not have quite the star power to go all the way, but they are built to be a fantastic regular-season team. 

6. Milwaukee Bucks

Current Standings: T-3rd | FiveThirtyEight: 2nd | Ferrigan: 4th | Strength of Schedule: 8th

The Bucks have been presumptive favorites coming out of the East for most of the season, and I’m not quite sure why. There is a lot of revisionist history going around, when it’s important to remember that this was not a particularly dominant team last season. They squeaked past a beat-up Nets team by literal inches. They then faced an easy Conference Finals opponent in the Hawks, thanks to a Ben Simmons collapse on the other side of the bracket. They do deserve all the credit for beating the Suns in the Finals. 

The Bucks also have the toughest remaining schedule in the league by many measures, facing off against the Suns Russell Westbrook , Warriors, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz and Bulls three times. 

To top it off, their defense has been problematic and trending downward. They badly miss monster rim protector Brook Lopez, whose return is completely up in the air. Serge Ibaka doesn’t look like he can move well anymore. They also traded away Donte DiVincenzo, whom they could really use now that Pat Connaughton will be out until mid-March with a hand injury. 

The models are high on the Bucks, but I am not. 

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7. Brooklyn Nets

Current Standings: 8th | FiveThirtyEight: 8th | Ferrigan: 8th | Strength of Schedule: 4th

The Nets have too big of a deficit to make too much of a seeding run; they’re seven games back of first place and two back of the seventh-place Raptors. But they will very likely own the tie-breaker over the Raptors if both finish with the same record. 

Health is not on the Nets’ side. Joe Harris might be out for the year because of complications with his ankle. Kyrie Irving will only play in eight of the team’s remaining regular-season games unless New York changes its vaccine mandate. Who knows when Ben Simmons will suit up? Ramona Shelburne had the guess at weeks, not months. 

The good news is that Kevin Durant should return from his sprained MCL very soon, and the addition of Goran Dragic should help in games when Irving is out. This team could be extremely dangerous in the playoffs. But Brooklyn has a lot working against it in the battle for seed steph curry jersey 2021 youth ing.

8. Toronto Raptors

Current Standings: 7th | FiveThirtyEight: 7th | Ferrigan: 6th | Strength of Schedule: 1st

The Raptors have three of the top four players in minutes per game. All five of their starters are in the top 13. They don’t have any major injuries, but that amount of wear is concerning down the stretch. 

They did add Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline and put him in the rotation immediately to take some load off those guys. He’s a smart veteran who can defend and pass at a high level. He will still be hitting lefty hook shots 30 years from now. 

The Raptors are also aided by the easiest schedule of any team in this race. They are a good team, and they wouldn't be this low in a normal year. But the lack of depth and wear on the roster are concerns for me. 

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