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Playoffs, Play-In or Lottery: Predictions for NBA’s 2023 Bubble Teams | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

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Brooklyn Nets

Current Standing: 36-28 overall, Sixth in East (Playoffs)

There’s a lot of talent still left after Sean Marks blew up the roster at the trade deadline, and Brooklyn did shock the league with an NBA-high 28-point comeback in Boston to beat the Celtics just last week.

So why the demotion here?

Since the deadline, Brooklyn possesses the fifth-worst net rating in the NBA (minus-6.5), even worse than the tanking Detroit Pistons, who are just 1-7 over this stretch.

This will be one of the most interesting teams to monitor in the offseason with a real building block in Mikal Bridges. For now, however, the Nets will fall out of the top-six seeds and into the play-in tournament.

Atlanta Hawks

Current Standing: 32-32 overall, Eighth in East (Play-In)

Quin Snyder is just 1-2 since taking over the Hawks, although his previous success with the Utah Jazz and getting the most out of a dynamic young guard should bode well for the rest of this season and beyond in Atlanta.

The Hawks’ offense has been better of late (fifth-best in the NBA since the trade deadline), resembling the high-power attack of last season. Saddiq Bey looks like a good pickup as well, averaging 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and shooting 50.0 percent from three in his first seven games in Atlanta.

With defensive questions continuing to surround this team trying to adjust between head coaches on the fly, the Hawks simply don’t have enough time to climb back into the East playoffs, however.

Toronto Raptors

Current Standing: 32-33 overall, Ninth in East (Play-In)

One of the most underachieving teams of the 2022-23 season, Toronto’s decision to keep the band together at the trade deadline has only produced mild results.

A 6-3 record is admirable, but the Raptors still possess a negative net rating (minus-1.1) and appear far too stagnant offensively for stretches.

Jakob Poeltl was a good pickup (15.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.8 blocks, 76.0 percent shooting in nine games), but it’s far more important this team gets a good Fred VanVleet down the stretch. The 29-year-old is shooting 37.7 percent from three in wins this season, yet just 30.3 percent in losses.

Washington Wizards

Current Standing: 30-34 overall, 10th in East (Play-In)

The team most in danger of getting jumped by the Chicago Bulls has actually gotten better with some recent subtractions.

By trading Rui Hachimura in late January and waiving Will Barton, Washington has cleared out some of their logjam at forward while going bigger with a frontline of Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porziņģis and Daniel Gafford.

The Wizards are 10-8 overall since trading Hachimura with a positive net rating (plus-1.5) in the process. This isn’t a great team by any means, but it is good enough to hold off a potential push by the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.

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