As the NBA restarts in Orlando, there's a lot of talk about the obvious contenders, like the Lakers and Bucks. However, there isn't enough talk about teams that will give them trouble along the way and maybe even knock them out. Here are 5 teams that you should watch out for in the NBA restart.
5. Philadelphia 76ers: Yup, I know what you're saying. The narrative that the Sixers can only win at home has held true the whole year. So, why would they be a worry to any championship team. Here's why: The starting lineup, has had a lot of injuries, making it tough to gain team chemistry in the process.....no pun intended:-). Joel Embiid is another big factor. Will he come back fit or fat? If he comes back fit, watch out. If he walks into Orlando looking like he's walking onto the set of biggest loser on the first day, then forget about any chance of the Sixers contending. One more thing to note, Ben Simmons is coming back from his back injury, and if he comes back and plays as well as he did prior to the injury, then that's even more reason to take the 76ers seriously in Orlando.
4. Indiana Pacers: This team is still a sleeper even though Oladipo isn't there. The Pacers performed quite well without him, essentially sitting in a spot to obtain a top 4 spot in the Eastern Conference. They still have Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner, and they have TJ Warren as well. Warren is leading the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game. The Pacers also have a serviceable bench. Point is, don't take the Pacers lightly.
3. New Orleans Pelicans: Yup, I have bought into the Zion hype. Zion and Brandon Ingram are both having great years to this point. Prior to the hiatus, they had won two straight, and Zion was averaging a little under 24 ppg. Brandon Ingram averaged over 24 ppg as well. If they stay healthy, they can really wreak havoc in Orlando.
2. Dallas Mavericks: This is a team that is stuck in a very difficult conference. The Western Conference is stacked. But, the Mavs mustered a 25-15 record against their Western Conference foes. They also went 40-27 in the 2019-2020 regular season. The team features one of the best young duos in the NBA with Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic. They also went 21-12 away from home, and that's exactly the situation they'll face in Orlando.
I wrote this article for one specific reason, and that is the NBA Finals matchup is NOT already decided. There are plenty of teams that could make a surprise run. As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over til it's over". So don't count these teams out when the NBA restarts in Orlando come July 30th.