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    The holiday season may be wrapping up, but the NBA playoff push is just getting underway. As the new year approaches, let’s take a look at the top five teams in the league!

    1. Cleveland Cavaliers: 22-12

    The Cavs were riding a five-game win streak before their most recent loss to Toronto on Friday, however, they were able to capture difficult wins on the road against Donovan Mitchell’s former team in Utah, Luka Dončić and the Mavericks as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Over his last six games, Mitchell is putting up 31.8 points and 4.4 threes, while shooting 46.8 percent from deep. If Spida can continue at this pace and the Cavs stay at or near the top of the Eastern Conference, he may have a chance at a First-Team All-NBA selection.

    2. Milwaukee Bucks: 22-10

    The Bucks have not been playing their best basketball as of late but I am not worried in the slightest by Milwaukee’s 3-3 stretch over their last six games. What I do find a bit concerning is the drop in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s recent scoring efficiency, as it is down significantly from his first MVP campaign. Guard Khris Middleton has also struggled in his return from injury shooting a measly 32.5 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from deep. The duo of Giannis and Khris is what has brought Milwaukee to its winning ways, and it is up to them to get back to their best selves. With plenty of time left this season I have high hopes that the Bucks will end this year as favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference.

    3. Boston Celtics: 23-10

    I was ready to put the Celtics atop this list just a few days ago, but after going 1-5 over their last six with back-to-back losses to Orlando put a halt to that rather quickly. Although Boston’s superstar Jayson Tatum did miss one of Boston’s two games against Orlando, cause for some concern still remains as to how deep this roster truly is. Through the month of November, the Celtics were league leaders in three-point percentage and overall offensive rating by a large margin, but through the first few weeks of December, those have dropped to 28th and last overall respectively. Talk about a cold stretch in the winter. Boston’s play is still very likely to find its balance again, but the sharp drop in offensive performance hints that this Celtics attack may rely on the deep ball too much.

    4. Denver Nuggets: 20-11

    Nikola Jokić has always been an MVP candidate this season, and those who think otherwise are foolish. Over his last 14 games after returning from an injury, Jokić is averaging 28.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 9.4 assists. In his last six games, a stretch that includes a 40-point, 27-rebound, 10-assist masterpiece of a game, he’s put up 30.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 10.3 assists. As amazing as those numbers are, the most impressive stat has to be his 69 percent true shooting percentage since his return. The Joker is an unguardable game-wrecker and has the Nuggets sitting at the top of the Western Conference.

    5. Brooklyn Nets: 20-12

    Since the start of December, Brooklyn ranks first in the league in points per 100 possessions and second in three-point shooting percentage. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are no doubt the stars of this offense, although it is nice to see a bit of life from the rollercoaster of a player that is Ben Simmons. He has missed some games so far this month, but Simmons is averaging 10.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 6.1 assists while shooting 70.5 percent from the field since mid-November. In that same stretch, he’s in the top 10 for three-point assists per 100 possessions as well. The Nets are right in the mix of the Eastern Conference’s shoulder-to-shoulder standings and should prove to be a formidable opponent as the playoff begins to form over the new year.


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    About Author

    Catal Ormando

    I am a student currently studying Sports Management at New York University. I have a strong interest in sports media, specifically within the NFL, CFB, and Formula 1. Life-long Steelers, Penn State, and Yankees fan.

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