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Teams with most to prove in 2023 NBA playoffs

Here’s a look at which teams need a big postseason in 2023.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NBA Playoffs are here, and everyone is looking to make their run at the NBA Finals trophy. There are only a handful of teams with a legitimate chance to win though, which sometimes take away from the excitement. Despite that, there are still a few teams with a lot more to prove than others. Let’s take a look the teams with the most to prove during this year’s playoffs.

Phoenix Suns

Recent playoff results: Lost 4-3 in 2022 Western Conference Semifinals to Dallas Mavericks, Lost 4-2 in 2021 NBA Finals to Milwaukee Bucks
NBA championships: 0

The Suns without a doubt have the most to prove during this year’s postseason. They made it to the 2021 Finals and lost a 2-0 lead to the Milwaukee Bucks. Last year they got embarrassed at home in Game 7 at the hands of Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Before the trade deadline, they made a blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Durant, putting even more emphasis on their win-now mentality. They are currently the No. 4 seed and have a matchup against the No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers. With Durant, Devin Booker, and Chris Paul all in the mix, there is a lot of pressure on the Suns to win the West and make the Finals.

Memphis Grizzlies

Recent playoff results: Lost 4-2 in 2022 Western Conference Semifinals to Golden State Warriors
NBA championships: 0

Ja Morant has been quoted as saying “I’m good in the West’ after most of the conference loaded up to make a run. Morant and his teammates have put a giant target on their backs during the season with their constant trash talk and arrogant demeanor. As the No. 2 seed in the conference, they’re still awaiting the matchup.

Philadelphia 76ers

Recent playoff results: Lost 4-2 in 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals to Miami Heat, Lost 4-3 to Atlanta Hawks in 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Lost 4-3 to Toronto Raptors in 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals
NBA championships: 3

Joel Embiid has played at an MVP level for the past three seasons, and it has not yielded must in playoff success for the 76ers. He is averaging 33 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. James Harden has raised his level of play this year, averaging 21 points and 10 assists per game. They’ve yet to reach the conference finals with the current group, and unless they receive a historic performance from the dynamic duo, their run will end early once again. With rumors swirling around Harden’s future, this could be the last time we see this current group together.

Denver Nuggets

Recent playoff results: Lost 4-1 to Warriors in 2022 West first round
NBA championships: 0

The Nuggets are the No. 1 seed in the West for the first time since 2009-10 under George Karl. Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic has had another MVP-worthy season averaging 24 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season. This current group hasn’t been to the conference finals since the bubble when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. They’ve underachieved over the past few years, but this is their chance to make it whole and reach the NBA Finals.