DJ’s Three-Point Take: NBA Playoff Favorites

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NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks

The NBA Playoffs are only a week away and we are in store for what should be a great playoff season. March Madness started us off great but now it’s time for the big boys. There’s still time left and teams are tussling for playoff seeds and home court advantage which makes this time even more special. Today I’m going to give you an overall view of my favorites in the playoffs and look out for my dislikes of the playoffs next week.

LeBron James

There is no reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers shouldn’t win the championship. When you look at the names on this roster, you can’t help but think, “How can they not win it all?” They’ve had rough patches throughout the season with rumored coaching issues and getting over roster kinks but they were able to turn it around quickly. Since the All-Star break the Cavaliers are 18-6, winning by an average margin of 9.7 points, which is 6.8 points more than before the All-Star break. Cleveland has claimed the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference with a clinch on the Central Division. Kyrie Irving has stepped up big this year and LeBron James is having another MVP-like season, even though it’s getting overshadowed because it’s not like the previous LeBron seasons we’re accustomed to. But the Cavaliers’ x-factors for success are Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. When the Russian center is on the court, their defensive rating is 100.8 but when he’s off the court, they give up about 4 more points which makes their rating 104.2. Mozgov gives them so much length especially on the defensive end and I’m not sure what was said to J.R. before he arrived to Cleveland, but he’s looking like the Sixth Man of the Year again.

PlayerUsage%

% of Team’s Points

Iman Shumpert14.8

13.0

J.R. Smith

17.8

17.8

Kevin Love21.6

22.2

Kyrie Irving26.1

26.9

LeBron James32.4

31.4

Timofey Mozgov17.2

18.4

Tristan Thompson13.8

14.5

Usage % – percentage of teams’ offensive possessions that a player uses while on the court. 

Chart shows how each of Cleveland’s key players contribute to their offense.

Spurs

As we know from previous years, you can never count out the San Antonio Spurs. They are the true definition of a “Playoff Team”. Coach Pop doesn’t care about seeds or home court advantage. All that matters is that his team is healthy going into the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard is carrying this team, averaging a career-high 16 points and 7 rebounds per game while also leading the league in steals, averaging 2 per game. The reigning champs are right where they want to be and anyone that writes them off is obviously not aware of what the Spurs do year in and year out. They’ve gotten hot at the right time of the season, winning 10 straight games and 20 of their last 24. Even though their core guys are getting older, they still have the ability to get the job done, and it’s should come as no surprise that they are on my list of favorites to come out on top.

Warriors

The Golden State Warriors have been the talk of the NBA all season. Steph Curry is in the MVP discussion and rookie coach Steve Kerr is leading the pack in the Coach of the Year category. This team has been playing great all year but as we know, the regular season means nothing. However, it’s undeniable how good they are. They’re offense is so fluent and they are never out of a game because of their ability to knock down outside shots. Also to counter that, they have the number one ranked defense with an efficiency of 97.9. With all the regular season success that they’ve had, it’s important that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the rest of the squad continue their success in the playoffs to prove that what they’ve done isn’t a fluke. Before the season began, I chose the Golden State Warriors to win it all this season and from what I’ve seen this year, I’m sticking with my pick.

A quick reminder of how smooth the Warriors offense moves with some of their weave action.

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