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NBA Playoffs Major Guide: Key detail as the things ramps up

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The end of the NBA season nears, meaning it’s postseason time! These coming months will separate the pretenders from the contenders. So ahead of the NBA playoffs tipping off, here’s everything you need to know.

In sports, winning is everything. In the NBA, the path to victory is forged through the Playoffs. Few domestic sporting leagues in the world can claim a tougher road to glory than the NBA, where the postseason is a murderer’s row, in what’s an incredibly deep league.

After a decade dominated by the Golden State Warriors, and LeBron James, recent seasons have seen new teams and faces succeed in their hunt for glory.

Season 2023-24 promises to be no different. With it all fast approaching, here’s everything you need to know to sit back and enjoy what many expect to be a high-quality basketballing expedition.

The complete 2023-24 NBA Playoffs guide

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When do they start?

20 April, 2024

Officially, the NBA Playoffs begin on 20 April 2024. However, the play-in tournament will run from 16 April to 19 April.

The NBA Finals will begin on 6 June and run until at least 14 June.

What is the Play-In again?

A few seasons ago, the NBA introduced the play-in tournament. Essentially, it adds extra entertainment to the end of the season and provides a path for teams finishing outside of the eighth seed, the traditional final playoff spot, for a chance to compete in the playoffs.

In its current format, the teams from seventh to tenth in both the Eastern and Western conferences are pitted against each other in a four-team playoff to decide their respective conference’s final two playoff sports.

The ninth seed hosts the tenth place team in an elimination game, while seventh plays eighth in a double-chance game, with the winner of seventh vs eighth progressing to the playoffs as the seventh seed and the loser facing off against the winner of ninth vs tenth for the final playoff spot.

Unlike the NBA Playoffs, contested over a seven-game series, the NBA’s play-in matches are on-off encounters, meaning there are no second chances.

Once the play-in concludes, the NBA’s normal playoff format proceeds as normal.

How to watch

All NBA games are available to stream via NBA League Pass. Alternatively, games will be shown on Fox Sports, which can be viewed on Foxtel or through Kayo Sports.

Will there be any Australians to watch out for?

Quite a few, actually. In the Eastern Conference, two of Australia’s most experienced basketballers will likely feature on two sides expected to be heavily in the Finals hunt: Joe Ingles of the Orlando Magic and Patty Mills of the Miami Heat.

At 36, Ingles is an experienced head on a youthful Orlando roster that’s third in the East at the time of writing and one of the season’s surprise packages. Led by 21-year-old Paolo Banchero and 22-year-old Franz Wagner. Limited to 17 minutes per game, his lowest in a season since 2015-16, Ingles has steadily impressed from the bench for the Magic.

While Ingles has remained settled in the Magic side, Patty Mills has bounced between teams this season. Initially beginning with the Atlanta Hawks, Mills was waived by the team before being picked up by the Jimmy Butler-led Miami Heat for the remainder of the season. Mills has alternated between starting and bench roles in Miami and will no doubt form a crucial element of the side in the NBA playoffs.

Elsewhere, Josh Green and Dante Exum have both played over 50 games for the Dallas Mavericks this season. Luka Doncic’s Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference at the time of writing. Green is the team’s fifth-highest scorer this season, while Exum’s three-and-D play provides them a vital boost from the bench. Both should provide strong rotational cover for Doncic, and backcourt partner, Kyrie Irving.

Also in the West, Josh Giddey’s been the high-flying Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting shooting guard this season, though compared to previous seasons his role has diminished.

Patty Mills
Australian point guard Patty Mills was an NBA Champions with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014

Who are the favourites?

In the East, the Boston Celtics are heavily favoured, for good reason. Currently, they’ve lost just 16 matches this and possess arguably the strongest starting five in the NBA: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis.

Brown, Tatum and Porzingis all average over 20 points per game this season, with Tatum’s 27 points per game the seventh-best average in the league. The trio’s scoring is supported by a defensively brilliant front court spearheaded by Holiday, arguably the NBA’s premier defensive guard, and an energetic and effective bench.

Entering the NBA playoffs, few teams are favoured as heavily as Boston. However, the East is stacked with potential difference makers, including the Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA playoffs
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic are two of the NBA’s best players

Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, the Bucks have been there and done it before in the NBA playoffs and have the star power to disrupt the status quo. Elsewhere in the East, the New York Knicks are having their best season in years while it’s impossible to rule out the Miami Heat, given recent history.

On the West Coast, is there anyone other than Denver favoured to dominate the NBA playoffs? They possess Nikola Jokic, the greatest basketballer in the world, and are the reigning champions. No team in the NBA has a higher pedigree.

Alongside Jokic, a walking triple-double and the greatest facilitating big in NBA history, Jamal Murray’s brilliance continues, while Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. are reliable scorers who seemingly always turn up during the playoffs.

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But the Nuggets aren’t even the current best team in the West. That honour goes to the Minnesota Timberwolves, with Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns scoring for fun and Rudy Gobert protecting the paint as if his life depends on it.

Additional contenders in the West include the young and fun OKC Thunder, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks and the LA Clippers of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, four MVP-level players in their prime.

Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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