The playoffs are here. For some of us it is like waking up on Christmas morning. The eight best teams in the Eastern Conference and the eight best teams in the Western Conference battle every other night to see who is a top NBA superiority. As of now, everyone has a view of each team and their chances of being the NBA champion. Lets see where each team ranks as the playoff begin.
1.) Golden State Warriors, 1st seed in the Western Conference
The Golden State Warriors ended the season with the best record in the NBA. They live and die by the three. They shot a .398 from the three point line which is .18 better then the next best team in the NBA. They also averaged 110 points per game which was the best in the NBA. They Warriors also managed to give up only less then 100 points per game. Teams that score and defend are always threats in the playoffs.
2.) San Antonio Spurs, 6th seed in the Western Conference
No one wants to face the ageless San Antonio Spurs at the moment. The Spurs won 11 out of 12 games to end the season including wins against the Houston Rockets twice, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks. Momentum is going in the right direction for the Spurs. Gregg Popovich as expected is still the best coach in the NBA. The Spurs have proven they can still be the best team in basketball.
3.) Houston Rockets, 2nd seed in the Western Conference
James Harden is the only reason the Rockets are the two seed in the West. Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley have been in-and-out of the lineup all season and Harden has had to adjust to multiple lineups. The Rockets were third in the league in DNP’s. Harden still ran the show no matter who was around him. The Western Conference is loaded with good teams, and Harden was single-handedly able to keep the Rockets stable and at the top of the West all season. With Howard back, the Rockets are ready to lift off.
4.) Cleveland Cavaliers, 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference
Cleveland is expected to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. They have shown this season they are the best team in basketball as well as displaying blatant chemistry issues. David Blatt lets LeBron call all of the plays. LeBron is the heart beat on both sides of the ball. Their lack of experience behind LeBron is what scares me. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving need to stay focused and work harder then they ever have before if the Cavs want to think about the title.
5.) Atlanta Hawks, 1st seed in the Eastern Conference
The Atlanta Hawks lost the final three games of the regular season. Paul Millsap has a recurring shoulder injury which is never good to hear. The Hawks are a complete different team when a starter is out of the lineup. With Millsap, the Hawks are still the Itmost complete team in the Eastern Conference. Mike Budenholzer was an assistant coach to Gregg Popovich who has five NBA titles. If the Hawks play like last years Spurs, they can beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.
6.) Memphis Grizzlies, 5th seed in the Western Conference
Defense wins championships. No one has a tougher front court then the Memphis Grizzlies. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have the toughness to outlast teams in a seven game series. Mike Conley having no timetable to return is concerning for everyone in the Grizzlies organization. Even Tony Allen has a hamstring problem. This is the worst time for these players to get injured. The one thing is everyone on the Grizzlies roster can defend. I repeat, defense wins championships.
7.) Los Angeles Clippers, 3rd seed in the Western Conference
The Los Angeles Clippers went on a tear to end the season to land the three seed. The Clippers won 14 out of 15 games to end the season. DeAndre Jordan has been so effective, he guaranteed himself to land a max level contract at the end of the season. Chris Paul averaged just north of 21 points and 10 assists during this hot streak. The Spurs is the worst possible team to have to face in the 1st round. Doc Rivers has to coach like he did with the Celtics in ’08.
8.) Portland Trail Blazers, 4th seed in the Western Conference
With LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard on the Trail Blazers roster, day in and day out they will be contenders. They aren’t my concern. All season they have had depth issues and then Wesley Matthews tears his achilles. They had a smooth ride to the playoff with being the only team in the Pacific Division to make the playoffs.
9.) Chicago Bulls, 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference
Derrick Rose is back which means the Bulls are now contenders. The Bulls have dealt with injuries and coach/organization disputes all season, but have kept it together. The Bulls have no more excuses. If Derrick Rose gets injured again he will not be able to play again. If they exit early, Tom Thibodeau will be looking for another job. This is the only team in my opinion that can beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls need to contend to keep this team together.
10.) Dallas Mavericks, 7th seed in the Western Conference
Dallas is a pretty good seven seed. They have championship experience all over the roster most importantly at head coach. There have been reported locker room issues revolving around Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo who both are free agents at the end of the season. To beat the Houston Rockets in the first round all issues need to be thrown out. If those two players want new contracts they need to step up in the playoffs. The Mavericks are my sleeper.
11.) Toronto Raptors, 4th seed in the Eastern Conference
The Toronto Raptors have one of the best offenses in the NBA but aren’t as consistent on the other side of the court. Kyle Lowry is their heart beat. The best thing that happened to the Raptors this season was the return of DeMar DeRozan. They rely on DeRozan being open on the wing, and his shot has beed falling all season. Even with DeRozan, Terrance Ross is the x-factor. Playoff experience would help his development. The Raptors are ready.
12.) Washington Wizards, 5th seed in the Eastern Conference
It has been a spiral downfall this season for the Washington Wizards. They looked unstoppable earlier this season, then their consistency started to fade. Everyone in the NBA world knows all of the pressure for the Wizards to succeed is on John Wall. He needs to keep composed and the Paul Pierce signing is what will keep him composed. Pierce is the only one on that roster who has an NBA Championship.
13.) New Orleans Pelicans, 8th seed in the Western Conference
Anthony Davis is a man child. He is the heart and soul of the Pelicans. The Pelicans have been dealing with injuries all season with Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, and even Anthony Davis for part of the season. Tyreke Evans deserves a lot of credit. He transitioned from small forward to point guard to keep the team stable. If everyone can stay healthy the future looks bright in New Orleans.
14.) Boston Celtics, 7th seed in the Eastern Conference
The Boston Celtics ended the season on a six game winning streak. In the final 30 games of the season after the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics are 20-10. The Celtics work their butts off on a daily basis and it all has to do with Brad Stevens. He believes he can win every game of the season and he has everyones trust in the locker room. No one expected the Celtics to make the playoffs, but don’t sleep on them.
15.) Milwaukee Bucks, 6th seed in the Eastern Conference
Milwaukee is another team that works hard day in and day out. Jason Kidd is a young coach with a talented group of young players. They play so well, if Jabari Parker was healthy I believe they would be seeded higher in the weak Eastern Conference. I would like the Bucks more if they kept Brandon Knight. Michael Carter Williams has been much more consistent, its just took too much time to build chemistry. The Bucks will be in the playoffs for years to come.
16.) Brooklyn Nets, 8th seed in the Eastern Conference
The Brooklyn Nets are clearly the worst team in the playoffs. It took an Indiana Pacers loss and a Brooklyn Nets win on the last game of the regular season to make the playoffs. This organization is falling apart. Brook Lopez is a free agent, they swap picks with the Atlanta Hawks this season, and traded two more future picks to the Boston Celtics. I’m surprised they made the playoffs. This will be the last time for a while you see the Nets in the playoffs.