A plethora of injuries are crippling the Eastern Conference contenders while the Los Angeles Clippers are finally living up to their billing as they dislodge the Denver Nuggets from the second seed.
Here’s how the standings stack as of March 6, the writing of this piece:
Surging Clippers living up to pre-season billing
The Clippers finally overtook the Nuggets for the Western Conference second seed. That happened March 5, Philippine time, when they whooped the Oklahoma City Thunder. 109-94 and Denver lost to the Golden State Warriors, 100-116.
It was just five days when the Clippers tied the count by routing the Nuggets, 231-103.
The Clippers pulled out a a six-game winning streak to reverse a 1-4 skid and are looking good to challenge the Lakers for the best team in Los Angeles.
The second seed, however, might be all they cared about in the first place.
In case you’ve forgotten, the Clippers and Lakers, hold home games at the same arena, the Staples Center. As, such there will be no homecourt advantage if they go on to face each other in the Conference Finals.
Regardless, both LA teams may just want to hold on to their current positions and prepare for the post-season.
Nuggets hope to stay in third
The Nuggets needs to stay in third for the rest of the way if they are to avoid a clash that may result in a tough opening series against either the Houston Rockets or Utah Jazz, who are both definitely capable of pulling an upset.
The Rockets and Jazz are currently tied for the 4th and 5th spot while the Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks are slugging it out for the 6th and 7th spot.
The Nuggets hold a slim 2½ lead over the Rockets and Jazz, who are just some 2 games ahead of the Thunder and Mavericks.
Injury bug hits East contenders
Meanwhile, the injuries started hounding the contenders of the East.
Key players of the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Indiana Pacers are crippled with injuries, paving way for more drama in securing of seedings and homecourt advantage.
Toronto, Boston couldn’t catch a break
This unfortunate turn of events suddenly compromise the chances of Boston and Toronto to put some distance against other contenders.
The Raptors and Celtics must find a way to deal with these injuries as they grapple to secure a more comfortable situation in the second seed spot.
Marc Gasol has been out since January due to a hamstring issue while Fred Van Fleet Marc missed his fifth straight game on Thursday against the Warriors due to a shoulder injury.
In a bit of good news, Serge Ibaka returned to the floor for the defending champions after missing two games.
On the other hand, the Celtics were dealt with a setback just as they seemed appering to be on a major upswing.
Both Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward, who had to leave the floor in the middle of their match with the Brooklyn Nets, a game they badly lost by losing a huge lead and succumbing in overtime, missed their game against Cleveland.
Hayward, suffering from an ankle injury, in not expected to be back until at least March 12 while Brown, suffering from a knee injury, is out at least until March 8.
If both teams don’t watch it, the Miami Heat, who are just 3½ games out of second place, might sneak in and relegate one of them to the fourth spot that puts them in line with a semifinals collision with top seed Milwaukee Bucks.
Sixers, Pacers in an even deeper bind
Lastly, the injuries may have just let the Sixers and Pacers kiss goodbye of any hopes of a deep playoff run.
The Sixers may even have a bigger problem at hand as their projected future cornerstones are dealing with injuries that may have long term effects.
Ben Simmons has been out since late February on a back issue while Joel Embiid has missed practically his last four games, playing just 7 minutes against the Cavs, due to shoulder issues.
At least five Pacers, including Victor Oladipo on a knee issue, and Malcolm Brogdon on a hip issue, are gametime decisions while Jeremy Lamb was already rendered out of the season late February due to a knee injury.
The Sixers and Pacers are tied for fifth in the East, 3 games behind the Heat who are in the fourth spot.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS