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NBA Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Mitchell Ready for Playoffs

We’ve hit the final weekend of the NBA’s regular season with still a handful of items to sort out, especially in the Western Conference. If you’re still interested in analyzing the NBA picks and making a bet online, perhaps some information on who’s streaking to the finish line (and who isn’t) will help. You will find some NBA news and that NBA betting preview for whichever game you fancy in our Locker Room section.

Eastern Conference Who’s Hot

  • Donovan Mitchell – He didn’t play Thursday as the Cleveland Cavaliers chose to rest their starts, but Mitchell is primed and ready for whatever the postseason brings. He’s scored 40 or more points in each of his last four games. That’s a feat that even LeBron James didn’t accomplish in a Cleveland uniform, and it makes Mitchell the first player to do so since James Harden in 2018-19. With this superstar elevating his game, Cleveland is becoming a more popular choice among NBA predictions for a long playoff run.
  • Obi Toppin – Stepping in for the injured Julius Randle, Toppin is making the most of his opportunity. He’s averaging 21.7 points per game in three straight starts, including a season-high 32 in Wednesday’s win at Indiana. Toppin shot 11-for-18 in that game and also handed out a career-high-tying six assists.
  • Cameron Johnson – This Brooklyn Net has shot better than 50% in six of his last seven games, posting a 58.8% field-goal percentage in that span. He’s averaging 18.8 points per game during the hot stretch as the Nets try to hang onto the sixth seed in the East.
Obi Toppin #1 of the New York Knicks
Obi Toppin #1 of the New York Knicks – Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Western Conference Who’s Hot

  • Austin Reaves – We had Reaves here a couple of weeks ago and had to include him one more time in recognition of a great late-season run. He’s averaging 20.4 points per game over his last nine, eight of which have been since he was moved into the starting lineup. The 24-year-old has been incredibly efficient, shooting 57% from the floor over a 14-game stretch. He’s even 22-for-23 from the line over the last three contests. Everything is clicking for this undrafted second-year pro.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker – An ex-Laker who was given a chance to run with the Utah Jazz point guard role, Horton-Tucker is piling up the points. He scored 41 points in a win over San Antonio last week, kicking off a four-game stretch in which he’s averaged 31.0 points. He sat Thursday as Utah waved the white flag, but it’s been a solid closing stretch for Horton-Tucker.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – He had a quieter night Thursday in Utah (22 points) but it came with seven rebounds and seven assists to help the Thunder in their quest for a Play-In spot. Prior to Thursday, Gilgeous-Alexander had four straight games of 30 points or more, averaging 35.3 on 54% shooting.

Eastern Conference Who’s Not

  • Fred VanVleet – The Toronto Raptors are almost locked into a Play-In matchup with the Chicago Bulls and they have to hope that VanVleet finds his stroke before that begins. He was held to seven points on 2-for-14 shooting in a loss at Boston on Wednesday and is shooting 31.6% over his last four games. One of those was a 20-point, 20-assist effort, so he’s still finding a way to help, and then some. He just needs to make a few more to give Toronto any chance of postseason success.
  • Trae Young – A hot-or-not regular, Young is scuffling down the stretch. He’s 1-for-14 from the arc over a three-game span and shooting 31.1% overall over the last four games. Like VanVleet, he’s handing out loads of assists but needs to put a few more in the basket to get the Hawks going.
  • Jaylen Brown – This is all relative as Brown is averaging 21.3 points over his last four games, but he’s missing a lot of shots all of a sudden. The masked man is 4-for-23 from beyond the arc in that span, including a 1-for-9 effort in Wednesday’s win over Toronto. He also missed his only two free throws in that game. The Celtics’ NBA odds are solid, but they need Brown to be on point.
Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors – Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

Western Conference Who’s Not

  • Tari Eason – It feels like we have a Houston or San Antonio rookie each week in the Who’s Not section. It just shows how hard it is to avoid slumps when you’re trying to figure out how to navigate NBA defenses. Beginning with a visit to Brooklyn last week, Eason is 10-for-40 from the field. He continues to pile up rebounds and steals, ranking in the top five among rookies in both categories.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – He sat out Thursday’s loss in Phoenix due to an illness. Perhaps that will help him get some energy in those legs, as his shot has been suffering. An early leader in the race for the 3-point percentage crown, Caldwell-Pope is just 4-for-27 from long range over an eight-game stretch. The Nuggets will need some big 3’s from him in the playoffs.
  • Dennis Schroder – He’s been a key cog for the Lakers all season but has hit a bit of a cold spell, at least in his last couple of games off the bench. He has a total of three points on 1-for-9 shooting over his last two as a reserve, going 1-for-6 from the arc and 3-for-6 from the line in that span. The 13 minutes he played in Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers was a season-low.

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers - Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

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