We’re halfway through the NBA playoffs, and the biggest question facing the NBA is who will be crowned the best team.
As it turns out, this is the most difficult question to answer.
Let’s take a look at the contenders and the best teams in the league right now.1.
Cleveland Cavaliers: This team is the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
While the Cavs have won more games than any other team in the Eastern Conference this season, they have never been the best in the East.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers to a first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks in five games, and Kyrie Irving scored just 15 points in that game.
Cleveland also lost to the Brooklyn Nets in the second round in five, while the Nets went on to win the Eastern Division title.
The Cavs are a young team, and while they are capable of making a run at the conference finals, they will need to find some form of success against the best of the Eastern conference to truly take off.2.
Philadelphia 76ers: It’s hard to believe the 76ers have been a team that has struggled to score since the season started, but that’s what has happened with the 76er’s defense.
They are second in defensive efficiency, and that is only improved by the addition of Gerald Henderson and Marcus Smart.
Henderson has been the most consistent defensive player in the conference, while Smart is an underrated 3-and-D specialist.
The Sixers have struggled in transition against teams that are fast and physical, but have shown some improvements in the past two games.3.
Detroit Pistons: After a lackluster performance against the Brooklyn 76ers, the Pistons came out in the third quarter of their last game and had a massive lead.
The Pistons won the game with a 19-2 run and ended up with a 107-90 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Despite a relatively slow start to the season, Detroit is a team built around scoring, and they had a stellar performance in the paint against the Timberwolves.
The defense has improved a bit, and if the Pistons can maintain that defense and continue to find their way offensively, they could become a threat in the playoffs.4.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics have been one of the best offensive teams in basketball for much of the season.
They have averaged 107.9 points per 100 possessions and have the sixth-best field goal percentage (55.3%) in the Western Conference.
Boston also had a tough time stopping LeBron James, who averaged 28.7 points per game.
However, Boston’s defense has also improved, as the Celtics allowed the second-fewest points per possession (3.8) in the West, and shot 45.4% overall.
They could use some more help in the frontcourt, as they allowed the fourth-fewer points per play (3).5.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies have struggled to get stops against teams with great guards, and are currently playing the fourth game of a back-to-back.
Zach Randolph and Zach Randolph Jr. are both averaging over 20 points per night, but both have been playing at a very high level.
While Randolph is averaging 23.4 points per contest, Randolph Jr is averaging 21.9, and both are shooting over 60% from the field.
The Grizzlies are playing their second game in five nights, and will be without Zach Randolph (shoulder), Marc Gasol (foot) and Zach LaVine (knee).
If the Grizzlies can find some success on defense, they may have a chance to make some noise.6.
Milwaukee Bucks: After losing Giannis Antetokounmpo to an ACL injury, the Bucks lost some key players to the injury as well.
They lost Antetkounmpi to an Achilles injury, and have also lost Brandon Knight to a torn ACL.
The Bucks have struggled defensively in recent games, as Giannis is averaging just 9.4 rebounds per game, and Knight has been playing with an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice for a week.
However for the Bucks to compete with the teams that have the best defense, the offense has to continue to improve.7.
New Orleans Pelicans: While the Pelicans have struggled offensively, New Orleans has also struggled defensively.
The Pelicans are allowing the fourth most points per-game in the entire league, and their defensive rating of 112.5 is the worst in the Atlantic Division.
This unit also allowed the sixth fewest points to opponents in the fourth quarter of games, per NBA.com.
The big question facing New Orleans is whether or not they can find their offense after Anthony Davis went down.
Davis is still in the midst of his recovery, and his recovery will likely take some time.
If the Pelicans can continue to get off to a strong start in the early going, they should be able to find success against some of the teams in their conference.8.