NBA Playoffs: It’s Cleveland’s title to lose
There is just over a week left in the NBA regular season. The first playoff games will begin on April 15, and there are plenty of viable options for potential NBA champions.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to repeat. The Golden State Warriors will be seeking a third-straight appearance in the Finals, hopefully to reclaim the trophy. There are the always-formidable San Antonio Spurs, who have become the second team to reach 60 wins this season on Tuesday night. This season also has two dark horse candidates in the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics have looked great all season and have the superstars to make a deep playoff run.
There are still a few games left in the regular season, so the playoff seedings are not set in stone. The Cavs and Celtics are battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. And speaking of the Eastern Conference, the teams ranked 5 to 11 are all within a couple of games of each other, so a lot can happen between now and the start of playoffs.
In the Western Conference, the playoff picture is pretty much set aside from a shift in seeding from the teams already guaranteed in. Realistically, there are only two teams battling for the eighth seed. The Portland Trailblazers and Denver Nuggets are currently sitting at eighth and ninth, respectively, and the Nuggets are a half-game behind the Blazers. The Pelicans and Mavericks are tied at tenth place right now, but they are five games behind the Nuggets, so I don’t see them making the playoffs.
There are some interesting, future scenarios that could play out this postseason. The easy bet would be that the Eastern Conference Finals will be a Cavs-Celtics matchup. However, the Wizards are an interesting team that plays very well at home. John Wall and Bradley Beal remain to be a dynamic backcourt that can compete with the best.
The same argument can be made for the Toronto Raptors. Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are a great guard duo, but Lowry is still nursing a wrist injury. One of these two teams are most likely going to face off against the dangerous Milwaukee Bucks.
Let’s not kid ourselves though, these teams can beat each other up as much as they want, the Cavaliers will be representing the East in the Finals. LeBron James is in a class of his own, and Kyrie Irving is the most talented scorer in the league. They’ve had some injury issues this season, but if those two can stay healthy, it will be their playoffs to lose.
The same could be said for Steph Curry and the Warriors. They have the best record in the league and their star-studded roster looks appealing. It’s time to see if the Kevin Durant addition can pay off, because it’s championship or bust.
The Spurs are the only team that can give Dub City a run for their money. Kawhi Leonard is the second-best player in the NBA, and Head Coach Gregg Poppovich has proven to be the best coach of this generation. The Rockets aerial attack from beyond the arc has won them a lot of games this season, but history has shown that Mark D’Antonio’s teams can’t win in the playoffs, and this year is no different.
History says that the NBA Finals has been LeBron James’ team (Miami Heat/Cleveland Cavaliers) versus either Warriors or the Spurs. So, this year’s Finals matchup will be the Cavs and the Spurs. While the Cavaliers might not have the best record during the regular season, LeBron James’ real season begins in the playoffs, and I don’t see anyone stopping him on his quest for his fourth NBA title.