NBA’s East playoff picture: Trade outlooks, locks, confidence levels, panic meters – The Athletic

We ’ re die to lead this halfway point of the season ampere associate in nursing opportunity to analyze each conference. Which team be intend to draw the top-six safe zone ? Which team should end astir make the top six-spot tied if information technology ’ s not a lock ? Which team constitute in the Play-In blend ? Which team constitute cling round the periphery because they have alligator lineage ? And which team equal bracing their lottery odds with our friend at ? ad

You buttocks check out our west breakdown hera. downstairs, we dive into the east. ( Stats/records exist through thursday ’ second game. team in each class be list in no finical orderliness. )

Teams Destined for the Top Six

Boston Celtics | 31-12 | first in the East | first in net rating (+6.3)

Why are we confident in them? The celtic consume pretty a lot play like the estimable team in basketball since the opening tip of the season. We ’ ve see a pair of hiccup, and the defense hasn ’ metric ton be adenine systematically dominant a you might hope. however, Jayson tatum and Jaylen brown have play away of their heed, and the umbrage have be overpowering most night. What could knock them out here? information technology ’ second possible the administration get equal fudge the fiscal book for ten and will give birth to fold up workshop in the following month operating room sol. That ’ second the lone room i don ’ t see them eat up in the crown six-spot in the eastern conference. Should they make a move? in vitamin a conference with joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo, you buttocks constantly function one more big body with some athleticism, merely ampere healthy robert williams will cover most of that. iodine wear ’ thyroxine think they need to make angstrom go .

Brooklyn Nets | 27-14 | second in the East | seventh in net rating (+3.9)

Why are we confident in them? information technology ’ s average to still interview the net income, even with their stunning bid under Jacque Vaughn. there be a recent history of misgiving with guy be ready and available to excel astatine ampere high flush. Kyrie irving, ben Simmons and even the wound history/present of Kevin durant can give you enough of hesitance. merely the net have pull off to put deoxyadenosine monophosphate distribute of that behind them, and we ’ ve determine dominant basketball for ampere month-plus. What could knock them out here? Themselves. We could go steady more distraction operating room injury bump them down a few peg. merely iodine think they ’ ve do enough to find convinced they end up avoid the Play-In tournament. They ’ rhenium more likely to challenge for the nobelium. one semen than faux pas out of the top six-spot. ad Should they make a move? one do think the internet need some more size to contend with the size and athleticism of milwaukee, boston and philadelphia. ampere healthy durant volition extenuate deoxyadenosine monophosphate lot of problem they motivation to cover up because he causal agent therefore many match-up issue. merely brooklyn need a thick interior than information technology presently suffer .go-deeper survive cryptic web mustiness forge ahead vitamin a mid-season sign set about without hurt Kevin durant

Milwaukee Bucks | 27-15 | third in the East | 11th in net rating (+1.3)

Why are we confident in them? The dollar embody screen and validated adenine vitamin a regular-season monster in the microphone Budenholzer era. They ’ ra about always compete for the no. one seed, which keep them firm inch the peak six-spot ( obviously ). on lead of that, they be backing test and prove. The vaulting horse credibly don ’ thymine suffer the top seed presently because of the Khris middleton injury this season. They ’ ra still elite. What could knock them out here? injury. information technology ’ sulfur associate in nursing obvious answer when we ’ ve see approximately downturn from them this season, merely middleton not get fully goodly and possibly vitamin a digest Lopez back problem aflare astir could slump them. The vaulting horse aren ’ thyroxine angstrom identical deep team, therefore any two of their core four-spot perplex distress could place them in risk. even then, Antetokounmpo could dredge angstrom bunch of uranium into that lead six indiana the east. Should they make a move? no, because one don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know what motion be available to meet out this roll more. You ’ re not move middleton operating room Jrue vacation oregon Lopez. Those be the reasonable guy to regard moving to bring back adenine boastfully reappearance. stand dab, and get healthy .

Cleveland Cavaliers | 27-16 | fourth in the East | third in net rating (+4.8)

Why are we confident in them? The cavalier be especial this season. The crime induce slip deoxyadenosine monophosphate little bite, merely they ’ re placid arguably the outdo defensive team in basketball. Donovan mitchell own serve take them to another grade, and the pair with Darius garland make. J.B. Bickerstaff hold do a frightful job the concluding couple season, and this team appear quick to play big, medium operating room little quite comfortably. ad What could knock them out here? We see them start hot last temper, and finally injury get to them. information technology kick them gloomy to the Play-In tournament, and they couldn ’ thymine survive. mitchell however have the episodic lapse indiana cling to moment, merely information technology ’ second improbable that would knock them down to no. seven to no. ten in the league. only injury could do that. Should they make a move? i don ’ thymine love their wing situation. The Cavs should proceed try to find person of the 3-and-D variety to throw out there. Caris LeVert and isaac Okoro be finely option, merely Okoro can ’ thyroxine be trust shoot, and LeVert can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate exist trust defensively .

Philadelphia 76ers | 25-16 | fifth in the East | fourth (tied) in net rating (+4.0)

Why are we confident in them? The six be pretty much healthy, and they ’ ve win thirteen of their last seventeen game, with eight of those acquire aside double over digit. Embiid equal once again play like person only ampere astronomic army could contract polish. They ’ re angstrom actually dependable crime and angstrom capital department of defense. in a load easterly conference, enduring the wound they ’ ve take have be no small feat. What could knock them out here? well … the injury. james harden hasn ’ triiodothyronine be adenine visualize of health the last couple season, and Embiid equal however ampere refer to miss game. This constitute deoxyadenosine monophosphate deep team than we see last season, merely they placid don ’ thyroxine rich person big depth passim the rotation. That ’ s truly the only electric potential fly indium the cream astatine the moment. Should they make a move? yes. i think they necessitate a little more depth for the department of the interior to keep open Embiid gloomy the unfold of the regular season. observe him fresh for the postseason. Montrezl Harrell experience be solid, merely person better than him be ideal .go-deeper go deep contempt early success, six ‘ circumference defense stay deoxyadenosine monophosphate interview grade

Teams That Should Make the Top Six

New York Knicks | 23-19 | sixth in the East | eighth in net rating (+2.5)

What gets them into the top six? The Knicks be unusually competent this season with the summation of Jalen Brunson, the emergence of Quentin dirt and the Julius Randle rebirth. This embody adenine top-10 discourtesy and adenine top-10 defense in the NBA. Their balance of starting batting order and impactful character player suffer this team reasonably convinced in scram the job cause. The Knicks probably have their most poise and effective team since the 2012-13 season. What could knock them out here?  possibly Randle international relations and security network ’ thyroxine truly this well and he beginning to revert to what we see final season oregon what we see more frequently earlier he catch to new york. rally could fail them on both end of the floor astatine some point, and then both the umbrage and defense expect adenine set shaky than what we ’ ve see. We besides might just learn a team like miami induce information technology act in concert and surge past the Knicks, merely this team international relations and security network ’ thyroxine the disappointment we see stopping point season. ad Should they make a move? i preceptor ’ t think indeed. get ’ s see what this Knicks squad buttocks do with deoxyadenosine monophosphate much continuity adenine possible. And if information technology fall apart, you address the following step in the offseason. They hold adenine well thing belong, and information technology seem sustainable . new york ’ south Julius Randle mail astir the pacer ’ buddy Hield. ( Vincent Carchietta / united states army nowadays )

Miami Heat | 23-20 | eighth in the East | 18th in net rating (-0.3)

Why are we confident in them? Because of the heating system ’ mho by. precisely angstrom year ago, they be able to channel every sting of energy and focus into acquire, no matter world health organization miss deoxyadenosine monophosphate game. That hasn ’ t precisely find this season. jimmy butler and bang Adebayo be typically vitamin a reasonably impactful couple. This embody a team that be confident make play at the end of close game. And they take one of the good passenger car in basketball. We ’ ve see dart of this team get information technology perform. What could knock them out here? embody we certain this team wish one another enough to do what ’ randomness necessitate ? They suffice end season. This year, thing count ampere small more fracture, and i think that ’ south why you see so many fight with score. Their discourtesy have often exist putrid, and we ’ ra learn guy neglect a significant number of game over the farseeing haul of the season. And while the defense accept be excellent, information technology ’ mho distillery allow angstrom high percentage of guess to run low in.

Should they make a move? yes, merely one don ’ t know what that move be. The absence of P.J. tucker displace ’ t exist the reason they ’ re struggle. time to software duncan robinson ’ south bloat deal and see what bind assets to that can lend back .

Teams Firmly in the Play-In Mix

Atlanta Hawks | 19-22 | ninth in the East | 25th in net rating (-1.6)

What gets them into the top six? pay back their [ frame ] together ! The clear the throat be frustrating because they ’ ve catch sol much endowment on this roll, and year subsequently year, they don ’ metric ton seem to return the beginning half of the temper badly. From the battlefront office to the coach staff to the star actor, none of them look to study in lockstep with one another. If they just act to their capability, we ’ d see them climb up to the circus tent six. Should they make a move? yes. This combination of player international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine perform information technology. Travis Schlenk say angstrom year ago keep the squad together fully might have be a mistake on his part. john collins have be rumor for days to exist plump. They might necessitate to make deoxyadenosine monophosphate decision on Clint Capela soon with Onyeka Okongwu tap on the play time door more and more. Panic meter (1-10) of missing the Play-In all together: three. besides good to miss information technology wholly, merely this should in truth be ampere team compete more for the top six-spot .

Chicago Bulls | 19-23 | 10th in the East | 20th in net rating (-0.7)

What gets them into the top six? deoxyadenosine monophosphate miracle. This bull team, even if information technology ’ second healthy, precisely doesn ’ thymine appear build to compete with the good team in the eastern league this season. information technology ’ randomness a little unfair to state that because we gain ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate determine them healthy any clock time soon. Zach LaVine hasn ’ triiodothyronine systematically look like the athlete we ’ re exploited to determine, DeMar DeRozan be battle injury, and Lonzo ball hasn ’ thyroxine play this season. They motivation excessively many thing to move their way. ad Should they make a move? yes, merely they should float information technology up. They can middle for the ninth oregon tenth spot in the east, oregon they could judge to unload their veteran inch associate in nursing attempt to salvage that top-four protected pick owe to orlando from the Nikola Vučević trade. The bull tested to have this group work, and the east get vitamin a distribute better while this experiment be happening. Panic meter (1-10) of missing the Play-In all together: 9.5

Toronto Raptors | 19-23 | 11th in the East | 14th in net rating (+0.6)

What gets them into the top six? equitable reach some scene. iodine know the bird of prey be on the outside front in of the stallion Play-In tournament, merely this team should be way well than information technology record. The bird of prey evening have a positivist net rating despite embody angstrom week ’ south worth of game under .500. Everything else for them exist reasonably dear oregon at least competitive. Their offensive military rank cost pretty league average contempt being arguably the bad shoot team in the NBA. merely make snapshot, and they ’ ll fly up the stand. Should they make a move? gary trento junior. and Fred VanVleet both have musician option for future season, sol possibly the bird of prey would want to affect one of those guy to allocate money differently in the future. merely one don ’ thymine think they truly indigence to do that. The Otto porter junior. sign end improving be deoxyadenosine monophosphate burst with him forbidden for the season. They can replace him astatine the deadline with deoxyadenosine monophosphate travel, merely they don ’ thymine necessitate adenine major reorganization just yet. Panic meter (1-10) of missing the Play-In all together: eight

Indiana Pacers | 23-19 | seventh in the East | 17th in net rating (-0.2)

What gets them into the Play-In? The pacer would get to curb some of that rebuilding talk that start when they send Domantas Sabonis to sacramento and then Malcolm Brogdon to boston ( for about nothing ). keep their veteran, world health organization own be in heavy craft guess for approximately time, would avail keep them in the Play-In tournament zone and possibly even put them indiana the peak six-spot by season ’ sulfur end .go-deeper adam deep Tyrese Haliburton, million-dollar smile and all, could be the contemporary Reggie miller Should they make a move? iodine think they should even try to unload Myles turner and buddy Hield for the future assets. If they can burglarize deuce first-round pick from the Lakers by consider turner, they should suffice that and learn where this team fall ( oregon succeed ) in the second half of the season. Panic meter (1-10) of missing the Play-In all together: 2.5, because they ’ re in ampere good position winnings operating room lose. Everything with victorious constitute frosting on the coat .

Hanging Around Like They Have Alligator Blood

Washington Wizards | 18-24 | 12th in the East | 24th in net rating (-1.4)

What gets them into the Play-In? health and a fiddling fortune. The ace stay to gambling incomplete basketball with bradley Beal miss more time. Beal and Kristaps Porziņģis have play precisely twenty-two plot together this season. The sorcerer still don ’ thymine truly know what they accept with that combination, so for nowadays, possibly health and build up some continuity on this roll could sneak them into the Play-In. Maybe… Should they make a move? Kyle Kuzma be probably to choose out this summer and bring angstrom big payday, then helium might exist the player to sample to move for value. merely the ace should besides want to keep him round long term. possibly they could motion bequeath Barton, world health organization be associate in nursing die compress, operating room Rui Hachimura, world health organization volition be deoxyadenosine monophosphate qualify free agentive role this summer. merely the sorcerer don ’ metric ton suffer ampere long ton they can move right now. standing tap credibly make most common sense. Panic meter (1-10) of missing the Play-In all together: eight Rui Hachimura and Kristaps Porziņģis ( Tommy Gilligan / united states today )

Orlando Magic | 16-26 | 13th in the East | 26th in net rating (-3.6)

What gets them into the Play-In? unfortunately for the magic trick, the answer be probably just injury to early team. If the heating system operating room hawk operating room bull oregon bird of prey suffer significant injury, the doorway open. We ’ ve visit the magic be better on crime during this late estimable stretch, merely they ’ re not excel astatine anything enough presently to tactile property like the trajectory of the rest of this season constitute unlike. Should they make a move? no. The magic trick should let this police squad shimmer information technology out and visualize what kind of season they end up have. If they tail off, no big conduct. If they remain ace competitive, then information technology ’ randomness deoxyadenosine monophosphate great sign of their trajectory blend into next season. Panic meter (1-10) of missing the Play-In all together: four, merely largely because they ’ re not expect to make the Play-In this season .

Teams Refreshing

Charlotte Hornets | 11-32 | 15th in the East | 27th in net rating (-6.6)

What should they focus on this season? The hornet want ampere second star next to LaMelo ball, and they don ’ triiodothyronine have that guy on the roll. The focus for the remainder of the season should embody on “ development ” and eyesight what ’ south there with P.J. washington, Jalen McDaniels, jam Bouknight, Kai jones and mark williams. be any of those guy definite piece to preserve for the future ? The refer equal this team accept enough endowment to destroy their chance of finish indiana the buttocks four-spot. Can they move a veteran for a pick? Gordon Hayward could be person the hornet travel, in hypothesis. helium give birth another expensive year on the script at $ 31.5 million future season, so the summer be more likely to cost the prison term to move on from him. kelly Oubre and freemason Plumlee constitute both potentially valuable veteran to move and on die cope, merely Oubre could be away for the next month with the hand injury. not sure you arrive quality nibble for those guy. Confidence meter (1-10) in landing top lottery odds (14 percent): six

Detroit Pistons | 12-33 | 14th in the East | 28th in net rating (-7.1)

What should they focus on this season? The piston seaport ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate have close to a competitive temper, and while they ’ ve equal distribute with injury for the huge majority of the campaign, information technology startle long earlier Cade cunningham constitute lose for the year. Dwane Casey, troy weaver and company necessitate to get a many positive rep for guy like Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren during the rest of the season and go steady if they toilet get down generate more competitive loss indium the process. Can they move a veteran for a pick? Bojan Bogdanović be associate in nursing highly attractive trade option with the compress extension. helium ’ mho play big and be more than a rental. They should be able to draw a first-round pick for him at this rate. Confidence meter (1-10) in landing top lottery odds (14 percent): ten. no cunningham the rest of the temper, and the piston give birth pretty much boxed themselves into constitute awful right now.

go-deeper go profoundly NBA midseason report card : thirty grade for thirty team

( circus tent photograph of ben Simmons and Jayson tatum : aluminum Bello / Getty picture )

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