The NBA Playoffs: Permutations And Predictions
The NBA like some other sport defied all odds caused by the deadly corona virus to continue its scintillating season of basketball, howbeit in an unusual way but who cares? Even if the fans can’t watch the NBA playoff live at the arena, the teams, assembled in Orlando gave us nothing short of beautiful and competitive basketball, most notably in the Western conference as the Trail Blazers defied the odds to clinch the last prestigious playoff spot. Some players also shone bright and the Suns surprisingly won all their games.
With the playoff games set, we analyse some games, predict a couple of outcomes and give you all some insight on what to expect as we enter the playoff mode.
They failed to even make the playoffs last season and the Lakers had to restartegise. Their biggest acquisition was Anthony Davis. They gave up a lot of their young superstars and future picks for him, added a couple of other pretty solid picks like Dwight Howard, Quinn Cook, Danny Green and some others and yes, it has worked out well. They were the first to qualify for the playoffs, breezed through the Western conference and they are now solid favourites for the title.
They gave the Warriors a good fight for the title in the quarter-finals last season, keep a core of that team and added Kawahi Leonard who ensured he brought Paul George alongside him to give the Lakers a good fight for the title. The Clippers are touted to be the favourite for the title by the bookies and we really can’t wait to see what Doc Rivers and his players have in store during these playoffs.
Many expected them to dwindle this season having lost Kawahi Leonard but they’ve stuck to their guns, stayed united, worked together as a team, relied on each other and haven’t showed any signs of relinquishing their NBA title easily. They may not be heavy favourites but they will cause teams a lot of problems because they score from all over the place and with different players.
They’ve been the Eastern conference leaders twice in a row. They lost to the Raptors in the Eastern conference playoff finals last season. They go again this season, having learnt from last season misdemeanours and hope to send a solid statement with their leader in crime, Gianni Antetokoumpo who knows the time is ticking for him to win an NBA title if he wants to be considered an NBA great.
If Russell Westbrook and James Harden show good consistency, step up in crunch time, and have their bench, led by Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon in good form, they will cause the best of teams problem. Unfortunately, they’ll have the Lakers to contend with if they go past the Thunder. D’Antoni also has to get his experiments spot on. Good enough, their main tormentors, the Warriors are not in the playoffs. It’s a tough task but it’s not impossible to pull off especially with James Harden.
They have the youngest and most vibrant squad you can think of, Jason Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, added to one of the best PG in the game, Kemba Walker, unfortunately, they have to first conquer the Sixers. Now is the time for the Sixers. Anything short of an Eastern conference finals will definitely put coach Brad Stevens job on the line.
PLAYERS WITH A POINT TO PROVE
He has won three and lost six NBA finals. He was brought to the Lakers to help continue or even surpass the legacy of Kobe Bryant. The last time the Lakers won a title was 2010.As a Lakers fan, it has been quite tumultuous. No better person to bring the glory days back to the Lakers than the King himself. A lot are hoping he fails, a lot also wants him to succeed. Hopefully the Lakers gets the title as a perfect tribute to the legendary Kobe Bryant whom we lost earlier in the year.
He has hustled, he has toiled, he’s had Kevin Durant, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, well, he has now gone to meet former team mate, James Harden as both super stars are desperate to win an NBA tible, like former teammate, Kevin Durant. The Rockets needs it, Harden and Westbrook needs it even more. The time starts NOW.
He is the main super star in the Bucks team. Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez also comes through but you really can’t call them super stars. GIANNIS really has to understand that he has to choose between working his ass off to win an NBA title with the Bucks thereby cementing his legacy with them or try to also form a super team with one or two superstar elsewhere to win a title.
He couldn’t do it with the Pacers, at the height of his career, he also couldn’t do it alongside Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony for the Thunder. He has another chance with the Clippers. If the Clippers want to win the title, Paul George has to come through real big to supplement and take some pressure off Leonard. Will he be consistent enough? We’ll see.
FASCINATING PLAYERS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
TJ WARREN (PACERS)
Prior to the bubble in Orlando, the only time I really remembered TJ Warren was when he had that serious scuffle with Jimmy Butler that eventually saw both of them ejected. Well, now we all know him properly. He had a beast of a time post lock down that Victor Oladipo had to confess taking a step back for him to continue thriving. Well, that battle with Jimmy Butler continues as both teams look set to lock horns in the playoffs. If Warren continues from where he stopped, we definitely have a cracker on our hands.
CARMELO ANTHONY (BLAZERS)
The 10-time All-star struggled to even get a team initially but he never gave up and finally found a team that believed he still has something to offer. Well, the blazers are now reaping the benefits. CARMELO now has to take it a step further and inspire the Blazers to a good run in these playoffs.
MICHAEL PORTER JR (NUGGETS)
If the Nuggets really want to put on a good run in these playoffs, they need a strong supporting cast to supplement Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Porter Jr also had a good run in the bubble and the Nuggets fans will be excited to see him bring it on in these playoffs.
SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER (THUNDER)
The Thunder lost Russell Westbrook and Paul George but despite gaining a lot of picks, they were never given a chance to even make the playoffs but they did, and comfortably finished 5th,thanks to the leadership of Chris Paul and a couple of young stars, mainly Gil Alexander. He has been awesome to say the least. He is definitely a future all-star and all eyes will be on him to see how he thrives in playoff basketball where the real stars shine.
PLAYERS WE’LL MISS
Kevin Durant: Easily a top three player in the NBA and one of the best shooters ever but injury has blighted his entire season but he should be in Orlando to cheer his team mates who still made the playoffs.
Kyrie Irving : The Nets are still thriving in the absence of him and KD but no doubt, Kyrie is one of the best point guards in the game alongside;
Stephen Curry: Who is also missing due to the Warriors terrible season which has been blighted by injuries to him and fellow splash brother;
Klay Thompson: and they will be hoping to be fully fit for next season.
Zion Williamson: Has failed to live up to the hype but has also not been helped by injuries and the Pelicans inconsistencies that has seen coach Alvin Gentry dismissed.
Devin Booker: He helped the Sun’s to an NBA best 8-0 in the bubble but it wasn’t enough to see them make the playoffs. He will be missed.
WESTERN CHAMPIONS – LA LAKERS
EASTERN CHAMPIONS – TORONTO RAPTORS
NBA CHAMPIONS – LA LAKERS
FINALS MVP – ANTHONY DAVIS
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Chuks is a seasoned banker, passionate about sports in general. Manchester United fan, inverter seller, fun and all-round good guy. He is also an editor at Mysport Nigeria on Facebook.