The NBA playoffs have started, which means we are that much closer to finally being able to watch the Spurs and Warriors compete for the NBA title. So what if technically that would be the Western Conference Finals? Everyone knows those are the two best teams in the league. It is hard to remember an NBA playoffs that had this much certainty from analysts and fans alike. That also means that this year has the highest potential for stunning upsets than it has since the Bulls’ domination of the 90s. It may not happen, but the potential of it should keep fans intrigued in all of the first round games. Before I break down the matchups and my predictions, here is a quick recap of the regular season, just in case you missed it.
The defending champion Warriors made history by breaking the record of most wins in a season, topping the previous mark of 72 wins with 73 wins of their own. Stephen Curry proved that last year’s MVP was not a one-time occurrence. and continues to change the game. The Spurs quietly dominate as well, just not as much as the Warriors. The Bulls crumbled down the stretch and now head towards an offseason where major moves are likely on the horizon. And finally, Kobe’s painful final season ends in dramatic fashion as he took over a fourth quarter for the final time and scored 60 points in his curtain call—we will ignore the fact it took him 50 shots.
Onto the playoffs. The playoff picture is not entirely shocking, but the lack of competitiveness from some of the supposedly elite teams is. The majority of the teams in the playoffs are not major contenders for the championship. They are just there to extend their seasons and hopefully provide us with some entertaining games in the process. These are mainly the teams in the Eastern Conference, as the Cavaliers and Heat are the only teams I can reasonably see coming out of the conference. In the Western Conference, everybody is just hoping that the Thunder and Clippers stay out of the way and do not prevent us from seeing what should be an all-time great Western Conference finals showdown between the Warriors and the Spurs. I can see either of them playing the spoiler role, but I cannot see either running the table in the playoffs. The Clippers have been inconsistent all year and just have never had the feeling of a team ready to get over the hump, and the same can be said for the Thunder.
In my preseason prediction, I suggested that the Warriors and Heat would meet in the Finals, and I am sticking by that prediction. Despite the loss of Chris Bosh, I think the Heat still have enough talent, balance, and desire to beat the Cavaliers, a team that has many more problems than there appear to be. The Cavaliers may be the popular pick, but I feel like they are bound to implode. Ultimately I do not think that will matter though, because the Warriors are on a different level than everybody else. No surprise here, but I am picking the Warriors to repeat and go down as one of the best teams of all time.