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Storm doesnt scuttle plan for astronauts return Ground beef recall 2020: JBS Food Canada recalls more than 38,000 pounds of meat Pacers confirm Victor Oladipo will play in NBA resumption

The Indiana Pacers will kick off their NBA resumption campaign Saturday, and it appears Victor Oladipo will be with them.

© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports Victor Oladipo initially wouldn't commit to playing.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Oladipo has decided to play in Orlando after all.

Pacers star Victor Oladipo will play in NBA restart beginning Indiana’s opener against the 76ers tonight.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 1, 2020

The Pacers themselves then confirmed the report:

Coach on @VicOladipo: "He is in the lineup, he'll be starting tonight. So yes, he's playing and ready to go." pic.twitter.com/qZH8vU3WFu

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) August 1, 2020

Oladipo, who has been working his way back from a ruptured quad suffered in January 2019, initially said he was opting out due to concerns about further injuries. It didn’t take long for him to have a change of heart and at least decide to test out his body before making a final decision, and he now appears comfortable taking the risk.

The star guard played in 13 games this season before the NBA shut down, scoring a modest 13.8 points per game as he looked to get back up to speed.

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Related slideshow: The NBA's best in-game dunkers (Provided by Yardbarker)

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Full screen 1/26 SLIDES © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports The NBA's best in-game dunkers Outside of game-winning moments such as walk-off home runs or last-second Hail Mary passes, no sports incident causes fans to rise from their seats quite like a highlight-reel dunk. The Association’s best in-game dunkers do more than provide fans and sports broadcasts with incidents that go viral on a nightly basis. Just one posterizing slam can flip a game’s momentum and cause an arena filled with individuals who were previously sitting on their hands to become a “sixth man” for the home side. These are today's best in-game dunkers. 2/26 SLIDES © Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports Pat Connaughton It was back in November 2018 when Milwaukee Bucks forward Pat Connaughton dunked into our hearts thanks to some unforgettable commentary from Reggie Miller. Anybody who scoffed when the 27-year-old was added to the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest had to eat their words after Connaughton flew over teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo to demonstrate his hops. As JR Radcliffe of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel documented, social-media users quite enjoyed Connaughton’s performance. 3/26 SLIDES © Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Dwight Howard One of the many basketball-related things taken from us in March was the career resurgence of Dwight Howard. Superman may not take flight the same way he did in his prime, but he showed during a second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers that he can still bring the cape out for a ride now and again. His tribute to Kobe Bryant at the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest was spectacular. 4/26 SLIDES © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports Blake Griffin We have to go back to 2019 to remember a time when Blake Griffin was terrorizing rims and would-be defenders since knee surgery made him a spectator before the start of 2020. Like Dwight Howard, Griffin isn’t the player of old these days, but we wouldn’t recommend attempting to get in either man’s way when they have some steam approaching the basket. Ask the Indiana Pacers about that. Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/26 SLIDES © Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports Dennis Smith Jr. From the second that guard Dennis Smith Jr. debuted in the fall of 2017, he showed he was a special aerial artist who drew comparisons to LeBron James for his artistic slams. Smith may never be an All-Star, but his 156-game resume is filled with some of the best dunks seen in the league over the past decade, at least. Here’s hoping there is a spot in the Association for Smith for many years to come. 6/26 SLIDES © Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports Ja Morant Ja Morant was invited to participate in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, but the uncrowned 2019-20 Rookie of the Year politely declined. That’s a shame since the 20-year-old routinely finished fearless one- and two-handed jams during what is, as of the typing of this sentence, a shortened debut campaign. Morant’s playmaking abilities weren’t shocking to behold, but he likely amazed even the toughest defenders with his willingness to crash the rim seemingly whenever possible. 7/26 SLIDES © Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports Larry Nance Jr. Like father, like son. Larry Nance Jr. first began posterizing opponents while with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has continued that tradition playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. At the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest, Nance honored his famous pops, but it wasn’t enough to propel him past Donovan Mitchell on that evening. 8/26 SLIDES © Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports DeMar DeRozan We understand if you missed out on some of DeMar DeRozan's better dunks during the 2019-20 season. After all, the San Antonio Spurs weren’t all that exciting. DeRozan repeatedly rocked rims in Spurs colors during the campaign, and he humbled poor Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors in January. Mr. Boucher may remain grounded the next time he sees DeRozan driving down the lane. 9/26 SLIDES © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Ben Simmons There is plenty to criticize about Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons even if he could win Defensive Player of the Year honors during the opening half of the 2020s. One can’t deny his incredible athleticism coupled with a wingspan that makes him uniquely unguardable once he leaves his feet near the hoop. Maybe one day, he’ll do more than joke about participating in a Dunk Contest. Slideshow continues on the next slide 10/26 SLIDES © Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports Jaylen Brown Boston Celtics teammates Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have several things in common, one of which is that both found great success meeting LeBron James at the rim. James isn’t the only player to lose such a battle vs. Brown despite having the size advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo may still have nightmares about previous encounters with Brown. 11/26 SLIDES © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Paul George One couldn’t be blamed for considering Paul George more of a perimeter defender than one of the best in-game dunkers in the league. Sure, George sometimes bends the rules regarding how many steps he can take before a jam, but that takes nothing away from those dunks that count on the scoreboard. His windmill should be admired in a museum. 12/26 SLIDES © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports DeAndre Jordan According to Bleacher Report’s Leo Sepkowitz, the Brooklyn Nets brought DeAndre Jordan to the Big Apple more because of his relationship with Kevin Durant than because of what he could offer Brooklyn in postseason games. The days of the Lob City Clippers are but a memory, but Jordan can still shake backboards with the best of them. Just wait until Durant is in the lineup and able to additionally open driving lanes for Jordan. 13/26 SLIDES © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Andrew Wiggins Even though the Andrew Wiggins experiment with the Minnesota Timberwolves was inevitably doomed before the start of the 2019-20 season, he gave the club’s fans handfuls of positive memories that didn’t include a plethora of winning. In his first game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers as a member of the Golden State Warriors in March 2020, Wiggins baptized 7-footer Ivica Zubac with a thunderous one-handed slam that gave Golden State supporters something to anticipate, assuming Wiggins is with the club next fall. 14/26 SLIDES © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Terrence Ross Terrence Ross cemented his name in history when he won the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest. As great as Ross was vs. air that night, he has also caused defenders to clear the way and concede buckets rather than end up on the wrong end of poster slams. How do you stop somebody who appears to float above the paint? Slideshow continues on the next slide 15/26 SLIDES © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid is a basketball cheat code, a 7-foot center who has a strong perimeter game and who can also dunk on any defender in the league if given only a step in the right direction. “The Process” may not want to “do a 180” during a competitive contest, but that shouldn’t let guys such as John Collins believe they can stop Embiid down low. Embiid should, however, do well to avoid certain post-dunk celebrations. 16/26 SLIDES © Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports Kelly Oubre Don’t feel bad if you found yourself unable to keep up with everybody Kelly Oubre dunked on over the past several years. Tsunami Papi has torched many big names in the Association. Paul George, JaVale McGee and Giannis Antetokounmpo are among the handful of the players on Oubre’s list. 17/26 SLIDES © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Anthony Davis Back at the start of 2019, Anthony Davis was a 6-foot-10 future MVP entering his prime. That was before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers and became teammates with LeBron James. The Brow was a “SportsCenter” segment unto himself on a monthly basis during his first season in LA-LA Land, and there’s no reason to believe he wasn’t just getting started when the NBA suspended play. 18/26 SLIDES © Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports Hamidou Diallo Even before Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo flew over Shaquille O’Neal and hung inside the rim en route to winning the 2019 Slam Dunk Contest, he’d already built an impressive compilation of dynamic dunks. Unsurprisingly, he added to that list throughout 2019-20. Marquese Chriss won’t fondly remember this slam after he calls time on his playing career. 19/26 SLIDES © Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports Donovan Mitchell Nobody should have needed to watch Donovan Mitchell win the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest to know he’s one of the best in the business. "Spida" opened the 2019-20 campaign with a dominant showing vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he soared vs. a variety of other opponents until the league’s premature break. Nikola Vucevic made the right business decision in a one-on-one vs. Mitchell in December. 20/26 SLIDES © Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports Zion Williamson Here’s a scary thought for fans of teams other than the New Orleans Pelicans: What if Zion Williamson is even better than advertised? The rookie hit an impressive 6-of-13 three-pointers in 19 outings, and he often looked like a grown man playing against younger fellas during his best dunks. There’s plenty more of this in Williamson’s future. 21/26 SLIDES © Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports Zach LaVine Chicago Bulls fans have good reasons to feel disappointed these days. Guard Zach LaVine isn’t one of them even if he could be traded by the club during the upcoming offseason. The two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion deserves to be on a Mount Rushmore of the best NBA in-game dunkers of the 2010s, and the fact that he turned 25 years old in March tells us he’ll remain near the top of such lists for the foreseeable future, barring injury setbacks. 22/26 SLIDES © Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports Russell Westbrook As Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob on Twitter) has documented over the years, the battles between Russell Westbrook and NBA rims are fascinating to follow. It sometimes seems as if Russ is angry at the buckets meant to house his slams, particularly when he puts extra oomph into his finishes. How did Mitchell Robinson or the New York Knicks and the rim hurt you, Mr. Westbrook? 23/26 SLIDES © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Giannis Antetokounmpo What do you do to stop a 6-foot-11 reigning MVP who can play any position, including point guard, and who isn’t even yet at the height of his powers? It turns out not all that much. Giannis Antetokounmpo once jumped over a human to complete a dunk. The Greek Freak is unfair. 24/26 SLIDES © Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports Derrick Jones Jr. We won’t try to take away the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest title won by Derrick Jones Jr. in this portion of the piece. Besides, it’s not as if Jones wasn’t a worthy champion. Each of the previous few years provided Jones with ample opportunities to dunk all over the G League and NBA, and he has more than answered the challenge. 25/26 SLIDES © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports LeBron James It’s easy to forget LeBron James turned 35 years old in December. You wouldn’t know that by watching his dunks from the past season-and-a-half. Whether he is emulating Kobe Bryant or throwing the hammer down on overmatched opponents, the King proved in 2020 that he isn’t planning on abdicating the throne while in his 30s. 26/26 SLIDES © Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Aaron Gordon We end with (who should’ve been) the rightful winner of the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest. Aaron Gordon may never become his generation’s Blake Griffin. It’s possible the forward and the Orlando Magic both would benefit from a clean break. Nevertheless, Gordon deserves to be recognized for his creativity, athleticism, strength and eagerness to attempt slams others would only envision when playing a video game. It would be a shame if he retired without at least one dunk trophy. 26/26 SLIDES

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NBA suspends Giannis Antetokounmpo one game for headbutt

Santa Clarita: When three Black teens were being threatened by an armed man, the responding officer turned the gun on them Theres a Reason Why You Haven’t Been Able to Find Dr. Pepper on Grocery Store Shelves NBA suspends Giannis Antetokounmpo one game for headbutt

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo lost his cool a bit during Tuesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, headbutting Moe Wagner after an incident between the two.

© Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) heads to the locker room after being ejected during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards.

Antetokounmpo was ejected for his role in the altercation. The Milwaukee Bucks star is now facing even more punishment from the Association heading into the playoffs.

The NBA is suspending Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks’ final seeding game on Thursday for head bump on Wizards’ Mo Wagner, source tells ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 12, 2020

To be clear, this won’t have much of an impact on Milwaukee heading into the playoffs. The Bucks have already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference and head into Thursday’s regular-season finale with a 56-16 record.

Though, it must be noted that Milwaukee has lost seven of its past 10 games dating back to before the 2019-20 season was suspended on March 11. The Eastern Conference favorites are also 3-4 in the Orlando bubble.

Much like the Los Angeles Lakers, it seems that the Bucks have struggled getting back into form as the two head into the playoffs with championship aspirations.

As for the Greek Freak, he averaged 27.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 63% shooting from the field in six games at Walt Disney World. He should be more than ready to go once the playoffs begin here soon.

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More must-reads:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo explains his headbutt on Moe Wagner
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Related slideshow: One fatal flaw for each remaining NBA playoff contender (Provided by Yardbarker)

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Full screen 1/20 SLIDES © Ashley Landis/USA Today Images One fatal flaw for each remaining NBA playoff contender We're less than a week away from the start of the NBA playoffs. The NBA's new Play-In Tournament concept has led to a wild race for the eight-seed in the Western Conference. And despite receiving criticism for sending 22 teams to the Orlando Bubble, only the Wizards, Kings and Pelicans have been eliminated thus far. Of the 20 teams jockeying for playoff positions, here is one fatal flaw that could doom each team. 2/20 SLIDES © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Phoenix Suns: Lack of experience, shooting The Suns have been the hottest team in the Orlando Bubble. Devin Booker looks like an All-NBA guard. Deandre Ayton is starting to look like an All-Star big man. And Mikal Bridges is starting to look like a future first-team All-Defensive player. If the Suns make the playoffs, it'll be a major accomplishment for them and some great momentum moving forward. However, there's no way these Suns advance past the first round - they're far too inexperienced and are a below-average shooting team. 3/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports San Antonio Spurs: A refusal to adapt to modern basketball Before I take shots at the Spurs for their continued refusal to adapt to modern basketball by embracing the three-point shot and offensive spacing (something their franchise title team ironically helped introduce to the sport in the 2014 Finals), I must applaud them for finally playing their young guards (Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV) together during the bubble. That being said, the team is 28th in the NBA in three-point attempts and 26th in three-point makes despite being fourth in three-point percentage (37.4 percent)!! You have to embrace the math when you're an underdog, and the Spurs refusal to do so will ultimately spell their doom. 4/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Portland Trail Blazers: Matching up with superstar wings This has been a long-standing problem for the Blazers - they simply aren't built to stop elite small forwards like LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard. Yes, Gary Trent Jr. has been awesome in the bubble, but at 6-foot-5 and 209 pounds, he's more of a two-guard than a forward. And while Carmelo Anthony is strong enough to bang with James and Leonard in the post, but both of them would make him look like he's playing in cement shoes on the perimeter. If Portland were to make the playoffs and matchup with the Lakers or eventually the Clippers, they would simply have to outscore them, meaning Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum would need to combine for about 60 ppg. over the course of a seven-game series. It could happen, but it's fairly unlikely. Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Memphis Grizzlies: Too inexperienced to win close games The poor Grizzlies are getting shafted by the bubble experience. Not only have they suffered two key injuries to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow, but they're playing opponents who are bringing playoff intensity to every game. If this were a regular finish to the regular season, some opponents would be unhealthy, some opponents would be resting players as many do towards the end of the season, and most opponents wouldn't be bringing the same type of intensity to every game like they are inside the bubble. Playoff intensity makes scoring in the final minutes of games more difficult - you have to execute perfectly on set plays and/or be able to score in isolation late in the shot clock. Memphis presently has neither of those - which is completely normal for a young, inexperienced team like the Grizzlies - and it's shown in their close losses to Portland, San Antonio and New Orleans in the bubble. 6/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Orlando Magic: Injuries galore Right as he was starting to break-out, Johnathan Isaac sadly became the first bubble injury tragedy as he tore his ACL and meniscus. A few games later, Aaron Gordon pulled his hamstring in a game against Toronto. Without those two, they have zero chance of slowing down the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton or Pascal Siakam (if they're able to surpass the Nets for the seven-seed). It'll be a quick sweep or gentlemen's sweep for Orlando, and they'll take a short bus trip home and prepare to be mediocre again in 2020-21. 7/20 SLIDES © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Brooklyn Nets: A lack of talent With Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan all missing the Orlando Bubble, the Nets don't have a chance to do anything in the playoffs. They know this. Their opponents know this. They're just helping the NBA complete the bubble, earn some revenue, and then be the sacrificial lamb for either the Raptors or Bucks in the first round. On the bright side, at least Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot is showing the ability to be a future three-and-D complement for Durant and Kyrie next season. 8/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Dallas Mavericks: Depth and defense It's a damn shame that Mavericks' big man Dwight Powell ruptured his Achilles earlier this season as he was Luka Doncic's best pick-and-roll partner as well as one of the team's better defenders. Adding a healthy Powell to Dallas' bubble roster would have given them a legitimate chance to upset the Clippers in the first round and make a deep playoff run, especially with how awesome Doncic (averaging 33.4 ppg., 11.6 rpg., 11.6 apg. in the bubble) and Kristaps Porzingis (29.4 ppg., 10.2 rpg. in the bubble) have played since the restart. Dallas will still have a puncher's chance against LA, but the Clippers seem to be the Mavs' kryptonite this season, beating them in all three matchups by a combined 33 points. 9/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Utah Jazz: Bench scoring The loss of Bojan Bogdanović for the season hurt the Jazz's chances to advance in the postseason in a multitude of ways. For one, it removed the team's second-leading scorer and most efficient shooter (20.2 ppg. on 45-41-90 shooting splits) from their offensive attack. Second, it took away a competent wing defender from their rotation - something that is paramount to success in the playoffs. And third, it decimated the team's bench attack. Instead of having two above-average bench players (Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson), the team only has Clarkson as Ingles has moved to the starting lineup. Great playoff teams usually have a strong eight-man rotation, but some can get by with a strong seven-man rotation (which is what the Jazz had prior to Bogdanović's injury). Now, they have a dependable six-man rotation...and that just isn't going to work against the stiff competition in the Western Conference. Slideshow continues on the next slide 10/20 SLIDES © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports OKC Thunder: Matching up with elite wings The Thunders' closing lineup - Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schröder, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams - has an absurd plus-29.9 net rating per 100 possessions in 177 minutes this season. It's the NBA's best clutch lineup as well. Notice something problematic about that lineup? It has no one that can legitimately slow down a LeBron James, an Anthony Davis, a Kawhi Leonard or a Paul George. Those are four of the best players and closers in the league - they'll destroy the Thunder, and they'll go at them on every single play. So, unless the Lakers or Clippers are upset in the first round, the Thunder's impressive season will almost certainly end before the conference finals. 11/20 SLIDES © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports Philadelphia 76ers: Season-long inconsistency Much like last year's Kyrie Irving-"led" Celtics, everyone is kind of waiting for the 76ers to snap out of their season-long funk as they enter the playoffs. Bad news Philly fans, I don't think it's happening this year. Yes, there have been teams that have gotten hot and run the table in the postseason (2011 Mavericks, 1995 Rockets, to name a few), but those teams had good momentum heading into the playoffs. The Sixers do not. Ben Simmons looks like he's out for the rest of the season. Al Horford has been a poor fit in Philly. And neither Tobias Harris nor Josh Richardson has stepped up as the perimeter star Philly will need if they even have a chance to advance deep into the playoffs. 12/20 SLIDES © Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports Indiana Pacers: No Domantas Sabonis Caveat: If Bubble TJ Warren continues to play like prime-Michael Jordan (averaged 34.8 ppg., 6.6 rpg. on 61-56-89 shooting through his first five bubble games), then the Pacers might win the whole damn thing. Assuming Warren comes back down to earth a bit in the playoffs, then Indiana will really miss their All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis (18.5 ppg., 12.4 rpg., 5.0 apg.), who left the bubble with a serious foot injury and is unlikely to return. Sabonis not only gave the Pacers consistent and efficient offense (54 percent FG), but he initiated offense with his passing, and, more importantly, his screening as he led the league with 7.0 screen assists per game. Missing that kind of reliability on offense may doom Indiana against some of the better Eastern Conference playoff opponents like Milwaukee, Toronto and Boston. 13/20 SLIDES © Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports Miami Heat: A second go-to scorer The Heat are an awesome, overachieving young roster that plays its tail off every game. They're far from a cute story, and will challenge any opponent they face - including the Bucks - in a playoff series. However, as we've seen countless times in the past, it's difficult to win a series deep in the postseason without multiple go-to scorers. Jimmy Butler fills one of those voids, but scanning the rest of Miami's roster, it's unclear which player will step up and be that reliable secondary scorer. Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro all averaged a little over 13 ppg. this season, but none of them are guys who can get their own shot off in isolation against a dialed-in defense at this point in their careers. Therefore, the Heat will need Butler (20.2 ppg.) to play out of his mind in the clutch in order to advance past the second round where they'll almost assuredly play the Bucks or the Raptors. 14/20 SLIDES © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Denver Nuggets: Youth and inexperience Yes, Michael Porter Jr. has been incredible in the bubble, averaging 23.8 ppg. and 9.2 rpg. He's established himself as a perfect superstar teammate and complement for Nikola Jokic. Porter's emergence also means that semi-star, Jamal Murray, doesn't need to been awesome in order for the Nuggets to have a chance to win against the best teams in the league. This will make Denver a formidable foe in the playoffs, but they're still probably a year away from being a series Finals contender given how good the Bucks, Lakers and Clippers have looked all season. You can have all the talent in the world, but you need playoff experience to take home a championship. Slideshow continues on the next slide 15/20 SLIDES © Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports Houston Rockets: Small ball can work, but super small ball probably cannot As the pre-Kevin Durant Warriors proved, small ball teams can win the championship (take that, old school NBA players!!). However, the best small ball teams of the past decade have always had at least one big man who could do the dirty work, grab defensive rebounds to end possessions, set hard screens and protect the paint. This current iteration of the Rockets doesn't even have that option anymore, having traded Clint Capela. Now, much like the Celtics, this Rockets team can beat any team on any given night both with talent and with superior analytical strategy, but can they make counter-adjustments in a playoff series against an opponent that has more than a day or two to scout them? Can their small forwards like PJ Tucker and Robert Covington withstand four playoff series' worth of banging with seven-foot big men? Can James Harden and Russell Westbrook maintain their efficiency amid extremely high usages? The general consensus is "no", but kudos to Houston for giving super small ball a shot. 16/20 SLIDES © Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports Boston Celtics: Limited depth If the playoffs were a single-elimination, March Madness-style tournament, the Celtics would probably be my pick to win the championship. Their top-seven guys - Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter - might be the most talented top-seven in the NBA. They can play any style and morph to matchup with any opponent. Unfortunately, the Celtics don't have any depth beyond those top-seven, and most championship teams need eight or nine reliable players to win four series in the postseason. Right now, they're filling out their rotation with journeyman Brad Wanamaker, scrub Semi Ojeleye and rookie Grant Williams - none of whom are going to make a positive impact on a series late in the playoffs. Thus, I expect the Celtics to win every series until they suffer an injury to their top-seven players or need a huge bench contribution to win a pivotal game. 17/20 SLIDES © Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports Toronto Raptors: They don't have Kawhi Leonard Despite losing the Finals MVP, the Raptors were one of the best regular season teams in the NBA. And arguably the best team in the bubble thus far. Their team chemistry and swagger are second to none heading into the playoffs. Yet, as most veteran NBA fans know, the playoffs are a different beast. Opponents have an entire series to scout you and make adjustments. Rotations get tighter and opponents' best lineups get played at a higher frequency. This all usually means that games will be close in the final possessions, and the teams with the best closers often win the tight games. Who is that dude for the Raptors? Kyle Lowry? Pascal Siakam? Fred VanVleet? And what do they do in the Conference Finals if Siakam can't slow down Giannis? 18/20 SLIDES © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports LA Lakers: Three-point shooting For those surprised that the Lakers' fatal flaw isn't a lack of guard depth (behind Point Guard LeBron), just remember - LeBron James will likely play 40-plus mpg. (career average is 42 mpg.) in the playoffs and the ball will be in his hands every possession. Therefore, the team's below average three-point shooting will be of greater concern come playoff time. Not only do the Lakers not make threes at a high clip (19th-best at 35.2 percent), they don't attempt them all that frequently (22nd-best at 31.6 attempts/game). They'll need the likes of Danny Green (36.9 percent), Kyle Kuzma (31.2 percent), Markieff Morris (23.1 percent) and Dion Waiters (21.4 percent) to shoot better than they did all regular season or else they'll be playing with fire every round. 19/20 SLIDES © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports LA Clippers: Who is going to stop Anthony Davis? Obviously, the team's lack of continuity could potentially hurt the Clippers. However, Kawhi Leonard is so great and the roster is so loaded with talent that it hasn't seemed to effected the Clippers whenever their core players have played together. Thus, I don't see it hurting them in the playoffs. At least not as much as Anthony Davis will. In four games this season, Davis averaged 28.3 ppg. and 11.8 free throw attempts in only 36.6 mpg. in his four games agains the Clippers this season. Exempt those minutes to be up in the 42-43 mpg. range, which means the Clips' bigs will constantly be in foul trouble and may force Kawhi to have to expend additional energy guarding AD. 20/20 SLIDES © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Milwaukee Bucks: A hot shooting opponent The Bucks were one of the greatest regular season teams ever this season. They had a double-digit point differential (net of offensive rating and defensive rating), becoming only the 12th team in NBA history to accomplish such a feat. And they're led by the two-time reigning MVP and this year's Defensive Player of the Year in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The one thing they do that would make me a little nervous is they force opponents to shoot three-pointers. in fact, they gave up the most three-point attempts (39.2) and makes (13.9). However, they only give up a league-average 35.5 percent on those threes. Bucks fans better hope they don't catch a hot shooting team deeper in the playoffs. 20/20 SLIDES

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