We are almost one month away from the end of the 2013-2014 season and at the moment we can’t really tell which team holds the upper hand when it comes to winning the 2014 NBA Championship. What can say for sure is that there will be several contending teams which will fight chest to chest all the way till the end. Let’s see who has the edge.
The defending champions, Miami Heat, are the strongest favorites to claim the Larry O’Brien trophy this season, too. LeBron James and Co. are currently cruising on autopilot. They are not chasing the first seed in the West and they seem relaxed, knowing that they will only have to push hard during the playoffs. Of course, the Heat have made some significant additions this season, in Michael Beasley and Greg Oden. Those two will be keys to Miami’s championship run. If the Heat get past the Indiana Pacers, it should be considered as a certainty that they will three-peat.
Kevin Durant’s company is another strong favorite for the championship. KD has been putting up one monster performance after another this season and finally, Russell Westbrook is starting to find his pace. The addition of veteran forward Caron Butler will also be a key for OKC during the playoffs. After a devastating loss in the 2012 NBA Finals, the Thunder finally look capable of winning it all in the West again. As long as Durant and Westbrook stay healthy, the Thunder should be able to make it to the NBA Finals. I don’t see a way they will lose to any other team in the West, unless one of their two megastars gets hurt. After all, that’s what cost them an early elimination in the playoffs last year.
Gregg Popovic’s group sometimes gets underrated. It’s true that the Spurs don’t impress with their playing style. They don’t throw down devastating dunks and they don’t have a fancy megastar like LeBron, Durant or Paul George. What they do, though, is be effective. Really, the Spurs have managed to stay in the forefront of the NBA for about a decade now. And they are expected to continue to do so. At present the Spurs are fighting against the Thunder for the first seed in the West. I can see them making it to the NBA Finals if their role players contribute as much as they did last year. Really, San Antonio will need Danny Green’s three-pointer, Kawhi Leonard’s defense, the contribution from Borris Diaw and the production from Marco Belinelli off the bench.
In The Hunt
There are also some other teams which are flying under the radar but they stand big odds to win the title.
The Indiana Pacers are the most significant one. Really, the Pacers are almost equal to the Heat when it comes to quality and depth. Led by Paul George, the Pacers have been surging all season long. They continue to rule the East, they have made a bunch of significant moves and they seem to be ready to fight against the Miami Heat for the title in the East. Can they, finally, beat them?
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are another team which could end up playing in the NBA Finals. After the acquisitions of Glen Davis and Danny Granger, the Pacers seem to have found the missing pieces for the championship run. Of course, the presence of Doc Rivers in the team’s bench has made a huge impact to the team’s playing style. The team is playing in a much more mature way now, at least in comparison to the previous season. The Clips are considered as underdogs when it comes to championship odds, but don’t be surprised if you see them winning it all in the West.
Finally, the Houston Rockets are another team which is not deeply into the championship talks, but they shouldn’t be neglected. It will be really tough for any team to beat Dwight Howard and James Harden in a seven-game stretch. The Rockets have uplifted their performance after the All-Star break and they are showing why lots of people believed they can make it to the NBA Finals in their first year with Howard onboard.
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