Top 5 Bold Predictions for Week 17 in the NBA - Kings Playoffs?
It’s trade deadline week in the NBA. But while everyone else bloviates who’s going where or who might go where or who should or shouldn’t go where, for now let’s get down to actual basketball. James Harden is still pouring in points, the 76ers have already made their moves, the Wizards are reeling, and things remain crowded for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. What kind of developments will transpire over the next seven days? Let’s take a potential look.
James Harden’s streak will end
It has to end sometime, right? Harden’s streak of consecutive 30-point games has climbed to 28, but by Harden’s ridiculous standards he is cooling off a bit. The 29-year-old has been kept in the 30s in five of the last nine outings and he has attempted single-digit free-throws on four occasions during this stretch. In fact, Harden got to the line only once (2-for-2) during Houston’s win over Sacramento on Wednesday. Oklahoma City, his former team, may be especially motivated to contain Harden on Saturday. Thereafter, Dallas is one of the strongest defensive squads in the Western Conference.
The 76ers will endure some growing pains
Channeling their inner Jim Fassel, the Sixers have anted up and pushed their chips to the center of the table. Of course, they have a lot more than just the playoffs on their minds; at this point it’s Eastern Conference champions or bust. Philadelphia acquired Tobias Harris (plus Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott) earlier this week, shipping Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, two first-round picks, and two second-round picks to the Clippers. Philly now boasts a starting five of Harris, J.J. Redick, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid. But with new pieces, no depth, Embiid’s questionable health, and a tough schedule, a few losses could be forthcoming before the wins start flowing. Next up for the 76ers are Denver, the Lakers, and Boston.
Harrison Barnes will ignite a successful Sacramento playoff push
Barnes got traded from Dallas to Sacramento in the middle of the Mavericks’ game on Wednesday. Not being around Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis may be bad news in the future, but Barnes has a better chance of making a playoff appearance right now with the Kings. They are 1.5 games behind the Clippers for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and the Clippers just confirmed that they have no interest in being good this season. The Lakers, who are right behind Sacramento in 10th, are a hot mess. Barnes’ 17.7 ppg should propel his new team to upcoming wins over Miami and Phoenix, sending it on its eventual way to the postseason.
The Wizards’ losing streak will hit at least six
This may not look bold at first glance; but, trust me, it is. Just look the schedule! Next up for Washington are Cleveland (at home), Chicago, and Detroit. Still, John Wall is now out for all of this season and the next one, Otto Porter Jr. is gone (traded to Chicago on Wednesday), and the Wizards’ current three-game skid includes a home loss to Atlanta. Motivation has gone out the window—and this team isn’t very good even when it is giving a decent effort.
Golden State will beat Phoenix by at least 40
You can’t find a more laughable matchup (well, maybe if you substituted New York for Phoenix) than Warriors vs. Suns. That’s what is on tap for Friday, when things could really get out of hand. Golden State just clobbered San Antonio by 39 on Wednesday, Stephen Curry is on fire, and Kevin Durant is frustrated. Durant may take some of that anger out on the Suns, who have dropped 12 in a row and fell to Utah by 28 earlier this week.