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NBA Season Preview
NBA season is a couple days old and for the first time in several years, there is some intrigue in the Western Conference. The Warriors are, of course, the favorites, but there may be some teams ready to make a real run at them in the playoffs.
1. Warriors- The Warriors are the class of the West again. Although they lost to Houston on opening night, they will be looking at winning upwards of 65 games this season. Almost everyone is back, and with a couple new rookies including Jordan Bell who could be really good. Omri Caspi and Nick Young could be good additions because they just need floor spacers who can shoot the ball and let the play makers make plays
2. Spurs- I think the Spurs will get the second seed in the West this year. I don't think they have the second best team and I honestly don't think they will get to the Western Conference Finals. But I know that Pop has mastered winning during the regular season. He knows how to win on the road, how to win during the rodeo road trip, and how to win when he sits his guys. The Spurs just win, baby. As usual, no one is giving them a chance with the other top teams in the West, but thats the usual for the Spurs.
3. Houston- I know Chris Paul played like crap the first game against the Warriors, but basketball fans know that Steph Curry has kinda always had his number. In general the Rockets did what they do, hung around, but this time stole it at the end. I still don't think they have the horses to beat the Warriors in a 7 game series, but I think they have a better chance than the Spurs. Here are the two caveats to that. 1. Spurs fans last memory was their team up huge in Game 1 in Golden State, then Khawaii goes down and the series is over. 2. The Spurs own the Rockets. We all remember last year when Houston went in Game 1 and destroyed the Spurs on their home floor and people wondered if this was the changing of the guard. It wasn't. So even though the Rockets may have the best chance to beat the Warriors, they may not be able to get there. And why do I think the Rockets have a better chance than the Spurs, because the Spurs are old and slow. And we all say its ok, they never get old, but look at that roster. As great of a coach Pop is and how he maximizes what he has, talent will win over a longer series, and I think the Warriors just have too much talent.
4. Oklahoma City- Why don't I think they will be higher than this with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony? Because you have three 1 on 1 players on the same team. That usually doesn't work. When you put together a "Big 3" usually one or more of those guys are a shooter or a slasher or a big. This is 3 guards who you throw the ball to and say get me a bucket. I can see lots of standing around watching a guy try and score on another guy. And against a lot of teams that will work and will win, but against the cream of the league, it isn't enough. I think they can scare the Warriors by doing something like winning one of the first two games in Golden State, then the Warriors show their metal and beat them in 6.
5-8 Not really sure- There are a lot of candidates to finish in the bottom half of the playoffs in the West. I don't know who exactly will get those spots but I think the Clippers, Jazz, Timberwolves, Blazers, and maybe the Mavs are the teams that will fill them.
Not in Playoffs- Unfortunately for us west coast people, I don't think the Lakers make the playoffs. I don't actually think it will be that close. I love Kuzma, and think he will be a stud in this league. I think Lonzo will be good as well, but the rest of that roster is weak. You might like Randle, Lopez, Clarkson, Ingram, Caldwell-Pope, and they are nice players, but which of those guys are starting on top teams in the West. My answer is between zero and one. And these are all major players for the Lakers. Obviously the wait is for next summer. I think the Lakers have no choice but to be better, but not that much better, and those names listed here aren't known for playing defense.
1. Cleveland- This was my pick before the injury to Hayward. They are still the best team, even without Thomas, and will get whatever seed they want. With the spaced out schedule there should be less rest for Lebron, which means more wins for the Cavs. I still think they have utterly no prayer to beat to the Warriors, but I don't see how they don't make the finals if healthy.
2. Boston- Yep they are 0-2 and I still think they get the 2 seed and make the Eastern Conference finals. They are loaded with young talent, and you saw that even after the loss of Hayward, they had a great chance to beat a fully healthy Cleveland team on the road opening night.
3. Washington- I guess I'll talk about them and the Raptors even though its a waste of time. They are the same team, will beat Cleveland once in the regular season and have high hopes before going out meekly in the East Semis. They have a nice team, but not nice enough to do anything more than last year.
4/5. Toronto/Milwaukee- One will get 4th one will get 5th. One will beat the other in the first round and then lose to Cleveland in the next round. I know we are all waiting for Giannis to become the player he could be, but is this the year? It actually could be. And the Bucks are loaded with long, athletic guys. But I watched them play last year and I think Jason Kidd is a horrific coach. They play with no energy and effort, they are undisciplined and he doesn't maximize talent. I think if they finish anywhere below 3rd in the East, he should be fired, and I think they will.
6-Oblivian- No one really cares about any of the other teams except the 76ers and the Knicks. The 76ers should make the playoffs, and the Knicks could win less than 20 games. I am excited to see Embiid hopefully play a full season, and excited to see Ben Simmons play. Other than that, no one cares.
Other than a 4 beating a 5, you rarely see a significant upset in the NBA playoffs and I think that continues. I hate to say it, but I think the Spurs find a way to beat the Rockets, or whoever the 3 seed is and then lose in 5 to the Warriors. In the East, I think we see a Boston/Cleveland rematch in the East finals, where hopefully Boston can go up like 5-4 in a game and lead at some point at home. Cavs in 5.
NBA finals will look just like it did last year if not worse.
Warriors in 5.
Its funny because writing this it seems like such a forgone conclusion and there is nothing really to look forward to but I actually think there is. First of all there are way more marquee match-ups than last year. Instead of about 4 good teams and Boston in the league, there are 5 good teams and Boston. And if I'm wrong and one of these new teams can be real challenger to the Warriors, then the season gets really exciting. Regardless, we are all excited to see Ball and Simmons, Harden and Paul, Westbrook and George, Butler and Wiggins and KAT, and so on.