NBA Season Preview
Even though the 2016 NBA Finals were held over four months ago, Cleveland fans are still in shock that the Cavaliers were able to come from behind and beat the Golden State Warriors, making it the first major championship for Cleveland since 1964. While the Cavs will go down in history as the first team to come back from a 3 – 1 deficit, the stats, rankings, and scores have been wiped clean as the 2016-17 NBA Season kicked off last week.
With each team hoping to not only dominate their conference but clinch a spot in the Finals, let’s take a look at the teams that could cause a major upset this season.
There’s no mistaking that the Cavs are one of the top picks when it comes to the Eastern Conference. While many see them going to the Finals, there are quite a few teams that could challenge them along the way.
The Pistons appeared to be in great shape and even had the potential to take on the Cavs this season, but due to Reggie Jackson’s missing the first several weeks due to a knee injury, the Pistons are vulnerable. Without Jackson starting, the Pistons are dead in the water and have very little chance of making the Playoffs.
While the season has just started, leaving plenty of room for miracles and upsets, the three teams that are favored to snag a spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs are the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Cleveland Cavaliers. With Boston and Toronto both in the Atlantic Division, they will have plenty of opportunities to rack up victories as they each play the bleeding Nets, 76ers, and Knicks 12 times.
Even though the Celtics look to make it to the playoffs, many analysts are predicting the Conference Finals will come down to the Raptors and Cavs – again. Last year, the Cavs and Raptors went head to head to see who would go to the finals. While the Raptors were able to tie the series, Cleveland had home court advantage in Games 3 and 4, leading them to the Finals. Even if the Raptors happen to gain home court advantage, the Cavs are no strangers to winning big games on someone else’s court. When it comes to the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, are projected to go the Finals for the third year in a row.
The Western Conference has been led by the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and San Antonio Spurs for the past several years, usually ending with Golden State charging ahead. But this year could be different as the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets have made changes to their core structure.
The Rockets not only have an impressive offense when it comes to shooting, but their new coach Mike D’Antoni and star player James Harden seem to be transforming the team into a top competitor this year. On the Timberwolves side, Tom Thibodeau has molded his core roster that includes Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, into a superior looking team that could easily make it through the middle of the Playoffs.
While the Rockets and Timberwolves could cause some major waves in the Western Conference, the talent of the Warriors, Spurs, and Clippers can’t go unnoticed, making them the top picks for the Playoffs. Each team has their advantages of one another, but the clear favorite of the three is Golden State. Led by Steph Curry, the Warriors can change their dynamic on a whim, making it impossible to gauge them. Add that to their ability to hit unbelievable threes, and short of a miracle, the Warriors will practically walk into the Conference Finals.
The main question is – who will meet them there? Some would say the Spurs, but after the historic upset in which the Thunder rallied to beat the Spurs, the Clippers are looking the be the team that could give the Warriors a run for the money. Given the hostility and rivalry amongst the two teams, the matchup could be quite exciting as the Clippers have the ability to win. But when it comes to the Clippers, their biggest flaw happens to be their weak second string. With up to seven games to play, the Clippers could see their offense crumble, giving the Warriors their third straight year to the Finals.
With the season just kicking off, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are already looking into the future, preparing themselves for yet another spectacular showdown. Will the Cavs and Warriors meet for the third time, or is this the year another team rises to the top? Be sure to tell us your predictions in the comment section below.
Article by Chris Piner