NBA Basketball Playoffs Preview
The best part of the NBA season starts in spring when the playoffs roll around. The ultimate battle for the head honcho of the league starts now as it is believed that the finals this year will be the third year in a row that the Golden State Warriors face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, barring a major upset. After acquiring Kevin Durant and posting their third straight sixty-plus wins season in a row, the Warriors seem to have the upper hand. Of course there’s also a chance that superior teams jump into the mix like the Rockets, Thunder, Spurs, and Celtics. The Eastern Conference round one matchups will consist of (1) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Chicago Bulls, (2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Indiana Pacers, (3) Toronto Raptors vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks, and (4) Washington Wizards vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks. The Western Conference will consist of (1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Portland Trailblazers, (2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (7) Memphis Grizzlies, (3) Houston Rockets vs. (6) Oklahoma City Thunder, and (4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (5) Utah Jazz.
The biggest surprise of the season in the East has been the Boston Celtics; not only did they earn the number one seed in the east, they also beat out reigning champs the Cleveland Cavaliers for the one seed. The Cavs picked up where they left off but struggled down the stretch which opened an opportunity for the Celtics to snatch the one seed. The Celtics stole the one seed by only two games while the three seed Toronto Raptors had the same record as the Cavaliers at 51-31. The Cavs were able to erase the chance of falling to a three seed by having one more conference win than the Raptors. Four seed Washington Wizards only fell behind between the race for the two seed by two games, and at four they face the five seeded Atlanta Hawks which could end up being one of the better first round series. The six and seven seed were also decided between a conference win with the Milwaukee Bucks having one more conference win than the Indian Pacers which led to the Bucks earning the six seed. The last spot in the Eastern Conference was also not surprisingly decided by one conference win; the Chicago Bulls beat out Dwayne Wade’s former team the Miami Heat by one win to earn them the eighth seed in the playoffs. The Eastern conference may be the weaker of the two, but it clearly showed that the race to make the playoffs was as tight as it gets, but as everyone else does, I would expect the Cavaliers to return to the finals for the third year in a row.
This year’s Western Conference wasn’t as tight as the east. The Warriors ran away with the west earning first place by a margin of six games posting their third straight sixty-plus win season. The San Antonio Spurs, also not very surprisingly, earned the second seed in the West for the second season in a row. The third seed was claimed by the Houston Rockets a season after barely sneaking into the playoffs as an eighth seed. The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in the fourth seed for the second season in a row while the surprise of the season is the Utah Jazz earning the fifth seed. Six seed is the Russell Westbrook-led OKC Thunder; after losing Kevin Durant to the Warriors, Westbrook stepped up this season and averaged a triple double every game and helping the Thunder sneak into the playoffs to face off against second MVP candidate James Harden and the Rockets. Seventh seed Memphis Grizzlies face off for the second year in a row against the two seed spurs in the exact same spot they were in last year at two and seven seed. The eighth seed seemed like a random draw this season as the Portland Trailblazers will face their first round doom in what should be a quickly wrapped up series.
Many people are hoping this year’s playoffs will bring some upsets and won’t eventually lead to the three peats of the Cavs vs. the Warriors (Spoiler: most people will end up being disappointed). For the third season in a row, it seems inevitable that neither the Warriors nor the Cavs will lose before the final round. Both these teams have dominated the entire NBA for some time, and it doesn’t seem to being ending anytime soon. This rivalry could wind being around for longer than people like, and with the Warriors addition of Kevin Durant, it will make these games even more exciting than the past two seasons. In a month I may be wrong or I may be right, but only time will tell, and until then people should enjoy the great time of the year that is, NBA Playoff season.