We’ve seen a bunch of surprises this season in the NBA and this season’s playoffs will certainly be very interesting, but also slightly different than we expected at the beginning of the season. First of all, there is a huge difference in the firepower of teams in the two conferences. The Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers are the two strong favorites in the East with no other team looking able to beat them in a seven – game series at the moment. On the other hand, in the West, there is a bunch of championship contenders, teams which could really make it to the NBA Finals and win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Let’s see how the playoff race looks at the moment.
Despite the recent struggles the Heat and the Pacers experience, they are still considered as the two strongest teams in the East. An Eastern Conference Finals between those two teams is widely expected. However, we’ve seen some other teams emerging as solid competitors. Of course, it will be very tough for any opponent to beat LeBron James and Co. or Paul George’s company. Nonetheless, if this happens, it won’t be the first time we’ve seen surprises happening in the NBA.
The Chicago Bulls are one of the teams which have gained much ground in the East. Thanks to the MVP-caliber performances from Joakim Noah and the contribution of a bunch of role players, Tom Thibodeau’s group has managed to climb as high as the third seed in the East. Of course, the Bulls have neither the quality nor the depth to beat any of the two conference leaders. However, they are one of the best defensive teams in the league and they might have a chance.
The Brooklyn Nets have finally found themselves. Although the team is experiencing a bunch of injuries, they have increased their chances to find success in the playoffs. Brooklyn has been one of the hottest teams in the league during the past month and a half.
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The Toronto Raptors, the Charlotte Bobcats and the Washington Wizards have all locked their playoff tickets, but they don’t seem to be able to make it much further than the first or the second round. The New York Knicks are still battling to clinch a playoff seed, currently standing two games behind the eighth – seeded Atlanta Hawks. They have a tough schedule ahead so maybe they will surprisingly miss the postseason.
What a competiveness level we are witnessing this season in the Western Conference. Literally, the top six teams of the playoffs, not to say the top seven, stand good chances to make it to the NBA Finals. Of course, the conference – leaders, San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, are considered the two strongest favorites. It’s surprising how the veteran, aging group of Gregg Popovic has managed to outplay any other younger and more energetic team in the conference. Despite their age, the Spurs have now won their last 16 games and they look like they have secured the top spot in the West.
OKC follows right behind. Whilst Kevin Durant is recording a monster season, he is the strongest favorite for the MVP award of the season, there are some concerns about Russell Westbrook’s health. The Thunder will certainly need him at his 100 percent during the postseason. As it was clearly shown last season, KD can’t lift the team over any opponent in a seven – game series. Although he is playing better than anyone else this season in the NBA, yes, LeBron included, he will need some support.
The Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets are following right behind. The Clips look more ready and complete than ever to make a strong push for the first NBA Championship in their franchise history. The Rockets, on the other hand, do have some holes but they are also playing in a tremendously high level.
The Golden State Warriors are a championship sleeper in the West. Sitting at the sixth seed, they are considered an underdog rather than a favorite. However, if the Splash Brothers manage to stay hot from downtown during the postseason and if Bogut and Iguodala are healthy, the Dubs will certainly find success.
The Memphis Grizzlies, the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks will most probably fight chest to chest till the end of the regular season for the spots 7 to 9. Memphis is certainly a team to avoid for the top – seeded teams, but the Suns have also achieve some surprising, big – margin wins against the elites this season. Any team really in the West can make the difference come playoff time. Get ready for an amazing 2014 NBA postseason.
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