Bucks, Nuggets or Celtics? Who are the leading contenders to become NBA champions?

Bucks, Nuggets or Celtics? Who are the leading contenders to become NBA champions?
The Golden State Warriors are the reigning champions
The Golden State Warriors are the reigning champions
With just days left of the NBA regular season, the leading contenders to become this season's champions are beginning to become clearer and clearer. The Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets lead the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively and will likely be two sides who go deep into the playoffs and potentially reach the NBA Finals.

The Golden State Warriors are the reigning NBA champions but have had a tricky season by their lofty standards, sitting in fifth in the Western Conference. However, they have not yet secured a place in the playoffs, so will be aiming to hold off the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers and avoid the play-in tournament, which takes place between April 11th and April 14th.

Nine teams have already qualified for the playoffs, including the Bucks, Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. But how likely are they to become NBA champions, and who else will fancy their chances of securing an NBA Championship Ring?

(All stats are correct as of April 5th.)


Milwaukee Bucks (57-22) (1st - Eastern)

Giannis is unplayable for the Bucks

Currently first in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks will have their eyes firmly set on their third NBA Championship, and second in three years.

Led by probably the best player in the NBA, Giannis Antentonkompou (28), Milwaukee continue to roll on. The two-time MVP is averaging 31.1 points per game this season, as well as 11.8 rebounds per game. His team also have the second-highest defensive rating in the league, behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jrue Holiday (32) and Brook Lopez (35) are having big seasons, and another boost for the Bucks has been the resurgence of Khris Middleton (31). After an injury-plagued season, Middleton's performances have begun to trend in the right direction. His 34 points against the Detroit Pistons on March 28th was a season-high.

Denver Nuggets (52-27) (1st - Western)

Jokic is looking to secure his third consecutive MVP

The Nuggets have never won an NBA Championship, nor have they ever reached the NBA Finals, but they remain one of the favourites to finally break that duck this year. And they have no excuses. They have to deliver.

In Nikola Jokic (28), Denver have the man who has won the last two MVP awards and is a leading contender to register a 'three-peat', which would make him only the fourth person to do just that. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird are the others on that list.

The Serb is averaging almost a triple-double this season (24.9 PTS, 11.9 REB, 9.9 AST) which is simply absurd. His seamless passing means he is one of the most creative centres of all time. However, he must now take the next step, and guide his team to the Finals.

The Nuggets will also need Michael Porter Jr (24) and Jamal Murray (26) at their best going into the playoffs, and both of their performances against the Golden State Warriors without Jokic on April 3rd will be a boost mentally.

Boston Celtics (54-25) (2nd - Eastern)

Tatum is averaging over 30 points per game

The Celtics have taken the pain of last year's 4-2 defeat in the Finals to the Warriors, and simply kicked on and become better. A brilliant team, they simply have it all and will want to go a step further and become champions.

The dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum (25) and Jaylen Brown (26) have hit stunning heights this season, and as a team, they are playing their basketball in years. Tatum has the most points in the NBA (2205) and is averaging 30.2 points.

They have a deep rotation to go alongside their unplayable guards, and it feels like anything other than winning The Finals will be a major disappointment. No pressure. 

Philadelphia 76ers (52-27) (3rd - Eastern)

Embiid has the highest PPG out of anyone this season

The 76ers haven't reached a conference finals since 2001, but they have reached the playoffs second round four times in the last five years. But with Joel Embiid (29) leading the way, alongside James Harden (33), they will really be looking to make the Eastern Conference finals this year.

Embiid is the favourite to win the MVP award this year, and his scoring performances have been staggering. He is leading the offensive stats ahead of anyone with 33.3 PPG, while he is also seventh-best in the rebounds department (10.2 RPG). His 52 points against the Boston Celtics on April 5th may have wrapped up MVP for him.

Harden has been a massive creative force, averaging 10.8 assists, more than anyone else.

They are perhaps not as big favourites as the previously mentioned three, but they deserve to be put in the same conversation as them. They will want to progress significantly further than they have in recent years.


 Phoenix Suns (44-35) (4th - Western)

Durant is Phoenix's superstar

Simply put - the acquisition of Kevin Durant (34) has made the Phoenix Suns a really formidable team. No one will want to go head-to-head with the Suns in the playoffs.

A 6"10' scoring phenomenon, KD has shown his unmatched quality only in spurts since moving to Phoenix, purely because of an ankle injury he suffered soon after he joined. However, he is back, and he has scored 83 points in his last three games.

Devin Booker (26) is another deadly scorer, especially from mid-range. Buckets will come for fun. And that's what makes the Suns so dangerous. Couple that with the fact they also have the seventh-best defensive rating in the league, Phoenix are going to be a real force come the playoffs.

Golden State Warriors (42-38) (5th - Western)

Curry has suffered from a number of injuries this season

Look, the Warriors aren't performing like they did last year, and their form on the road has been patchy, to say the least, but the facts are that their core players are championship winners and they have more than enough quality once they get going.

Andrew Wiggins (28) is set to return to the team soon too after missing 21 games due to a family issue. His return would be huge.

Stephen Curry (35) has had an injury-plagued season, yet is still averaging 29.5 points, the third best of his career. That just showcases the genius of the player and with Klay Thompson's (33) ability from the three-point line, it is just impossible to rule the Warriors out.

Memphis Grizzlies (50-29) (2nd - Western)

Despite his off-the-court issues, Morant is a superstar

The Grizzlies are a very talented team, and despite the off-the-court issues that have circled Ja Morant (23), there is no doubt that he is an absolute superstar. He will want to take his team deep into the playoffs and potentially to the Conference Finals for the first time in 10 years.

Morant is averaging 26.4 points alongside 8.1 assists, while his freakish athleticism makes him one of the most exciting players to watch.

Homecourt advantage through the playoffs will be a plus, so as long as they keep everyone fit, they could cause a lot of damage.


Los Angeles Lakers (41-38) (6th - Western)

LeBron became the NBA's all-time leading scorer

The Lakers are most likely not going to win the NBA Finals this year, but it's just impossible to rule them out. Everyone will want to avoid them in the playoffs. There's so much class in that team.

They started the season really poorly but they have managed to recover in impressive fashion even with LeBron James (38) being injured. That's largely thanks to the return of Anthony Davis (30).

Davis has been monstrous for Los Angeles, averaging 26.5 points and 12.4 rebounds. He is the first Laker to average 25/10 in a season since Shaquille O'Neal. If he can stay fit, they have all the potential to give a big fright to many teams.

Follow all the drama as the playoffs approach on Flashscore.


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