This NBA season has been one of the craziest rides we have experienced in a long, long time. First, let’s remember that you can count on your fingers how many times in NBA history we went to the final day of the regular season and had a play-in game. Yes, what are the odds that the only teams competing for the final seed available would meet on the last day of the regular season? This is a sign from the basketball gods that we will have a lot of craziness happening as we enter the playoff season. There are so many storylines going into these playoffs and so many crazy scenarios that could very well happen that we couldn’t even think of all of them. We have the Houston Rockets who, after an unbelievable regular-season, seem to be a legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors in the West. Let’s not forget that despite their struggles, the Oklahoma City Thunder still have three superstars on their roster that could switch gears and start playing out of their minds at any second.
In the East, we have LeBron James with an almost entirely new roster gunning for yet another NBA Finals appearance. However, he will have to surpass teams like the superbly coached Toronto Raptors, and the exciting Philadelphia 76ers. And we cannot forget that there are superstars in the bottom seeds like Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee at number seven, and John Wall with Washington at number eight. And lastly, we have everyone waiting to see how the Celtics will fare without Kyrie Irving.
15 Crazy: OKC Wins It All
Let’s get right into the grit of it. If there is one team that has something to prove during this playoff season, that team is the Oklahoma City Thunder. After the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder were supposed to be one of the best teams in the league, and to their credit, they have looked like a superteam for several stretches during the season. However, they have had equally enough bad stretches, which makes their playoff chances the hardest thing to predict.
Either way, when you have three superstars that can decide any game on their own like Oklahoma City has, it would be negligent not to give them at least a puncher’s chance against any team in the NBA. More than that, they won their season series against the Rockets 2-1 and tied their series with the Warriors 2-2.
14 Crazy: Anthony Davis Knocks Out A Super Team On His Own
The New Orleans Pelicans have a tough first-round matchup coming up against the Portland Trail Blazers. Nevertheless, while that matchup will be one of the best in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, it is one the number six seed could come out on top of. Their season series was a 2-2 tie. In case they get past Portland, we will get to see what Anthony Davis will be able to do against the Golden State Warriors. The season series between these two was a 3-1 win for the Warriors, but the Pelicans won the last game.
Individually, it seems like Davis could provide a surprise on his own, especially if Steph Curry is not 100% by the second round.
Davis was number two in the NBA in scoring with 28.1 points per game, as well as number five in rebounds with 11.1. Oh yeah, he also led the league in blocks with 2.6.
13 Obvious: Cleveland Wins The East
The reasoning here is very simple. Whenever you have LeBron James on your roster, getting to the Eastern Conference Finals is a given. When was the last time you remember having a season in the NBA in which LeBron James did not take his team to the Eastern Conference Finals? Yeah, our memory doesn’t go that far back either. James is still the number one player in basketball, and it will be hard for any team in the East to knock him out of contention, regardless of how bad the rest of his team might be.
The King finished the regular season number three in scoring with 27.5 points, and number two in assists per game with 9.1. LeBron has already proven he can perform miracles on his own, and you better expect to see some when this playoff season comes around.
12 Crazy: Raptors Win The East
This might be the funniest entry on this entire list. When a team qualifies as the number one seed in their conference with a four-game advantage over the number two spot, you would imagine that team would be the favorite to win the conference when the playoffs come. However, that is a place many people were reluctant to put the Toronto Raptors at.
After finishing the regular season with a 59-23 record, 40-12 in the conference, most still don't put Toronto as the clear favorites to win the East.
If you read the last entry on our list, you know very well why the Raptors are still not the favorites. There is a guy named LeBron James in the East, and with allowing Cleveland to win the season series 2-1, Toronto did not help its case.
11 Crazy: Milwaukee Knocks Boston Out
When the summer was over, it really seemed like the Boston Celtics had it all figured out. They had added two premier players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, two players who would undoubtedly put them at the least in the number two spot in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, things started to go south in the first game of the season when Hayward got injured. Still, they managed to rise above that tragedy and solidify themselves in the second place of the Eastern Conference. Much of that, however, had to do with the play of their star, Kyrie Irving. And since the gods of basketball don’t seem to give anyone a break, Irving injured himself and is out for the rest of the season. On the other side, we have the Greek Freak and Milwaukee, who could very well prove too much for the young Celtics to handle.
10 Obvious: Rockets And Warriors In The Western Conference Finals
The Houston Rockets were nothing short of ridiculous during the regular season, and their 65-17 record is enough to prove that to any kind of hater. Houston had the NBA leading scorer and probable MVP, James Harden, who scored 30.4 points per game while dishing out 8.8 assists. The Rockets are also number two in offensive rating per NBA.com, having knocked down a league-leading 1256 three-pointers.
On the other side, we have the reigning champions, who, despite all their struggles, still finished the season with a 58-24 record. The Warriors are still the team to beat, and the numbers prove that. Houston might have made the most three-pointers, but Golden State has the best percentage of hits from beyond the arc with 39.1 percent. These two teams should meet in the conference finals, and it should be a matchup for the ages.
9 Crazy: Minnesota Takes Houston To Seven Games
If there is one thing it seems these playoffs will have that few others in the past have had, it is balance in the first round. No NBA fan who followed the regular season is thinking that there are going to be a lot of sweeps during the first round of these playoffs. The perfect example of that is the matchup between the team with the number one record in the league and the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Yes, Houston is a super team, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are no laughing matter.
They have struggled during the season, but they have enough talent to explode during a playoff series and take down Houston. Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins are all players who can decide a game on their own, and you can be sure Mike D’Antoni is well aware of that.
8 Crazy: Philly Wins The East
If there is one team in the NBA that has captivated a majority of fans this season, it is the Philadelphia 76ers. After snapping a six-year playoff drought, the Sixers proved that there is nothing wrong with “trusting the process.” Once deemed by many a lunatic and a cheater, Sam Hinkie is considered more of a hero in Philadelphia these days. It is only because of him that the Sixers have the young core that led them to the number three seed in the East. And to be honest, we do think every other team in the conference should be terrified of facing the Sixers in the playoffs.
Ben Simmons really does seem to be the second coming of LeBron James, and as soon he develops a jump shot, he will become one of the top five players in the league. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid is a threat from everywhere on the floor, and this combo could take the Sixers far.
7 Obvious: LeBron’s Finals Record Gets To 3-5
While LeBron James is still the number one player in the world and he is enough to get a team to the finals, we find it hard to believe that the King will be able to win his third championship on his own.
It's not like Cleveland is bad, but they are nowhere near as good in terms of a supporting cast as either the Warriors or the Rockets.
The way they should play is obvious to everyone. LeBron will have an unprecedented usage rate, but that will mean little if the rest of the team can’t score, especially from beyond the arc. Cleveland finished the regular season shooting 37.2 percent from three-point range, but they will need that percentage to go up if they want a chance to win the finals.
6 Crazy: Portland Makes A Run
The story of the Portland Trail Blazers in recent years is almost sad. They have always been a good team, but the sad thing is that they are always overlooked. This team has arguably the best backcourt in basketball today. Yes, we are including Steph Curry and Klay Thompson when we say Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are the best backcourt in the NBA. This is especially true when it comes to scoring. Lillard is averaging 26.9 points per game while McCollum is averaging 21.4. CJ is also shooting the lights out from beyond the arc with almost 40 percent.
The backcourt duo also has some help on the inside as Jusuf Nurkic can bang shoulders with the best of them inside the paint. With the rest of the squad being able to play solid defense throughout most games, the Blazers could do some damage in the postseason.
5 Crazy: San Antonio Takes The Warriors To Seven Games
You can’t ever count the San Antonio Spurs out. Yes, the Warriors are the team with the best players, but when you look at the entire roster, some would claim that the Spurs are more balanced. Greg Popovich is a master of turning regular players into hardened playoff warriors (no pun intended). After a rough start to his career in San Antonio, LaMarcus Aldridge finally seems to be playing close to how he played in Portland. He is averaging 23.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with the Spurs while shooting 51 percent from the field.
The roster is filled with skilled veterans like Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, Patty Mills, and especially Manu Ginobili.
The Spurs will play with a team-first mentality against the Warriors, and maybe it could work. Don’t forget that Golden State will probably not have Steph Curry in the first round.
4 Obvious: James Harden Chokes Against The Warriors
We could probably change this entry to say that James Harden will choke at some point in the playoffs. It is hard to deny his greatness, but it is also tough not to remember how many times we have seen Harden break down when his team needs him the most. The memory of what happened last year against the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals is still fresh in the minds of Houston fans.
After a legendary MVP race against Russell Westbrook in the regular season, Harden did his job in the first round to knock out Oklahoma City, but he could do little to stop the Spurs in the second round. He finished those playoffs shooting a measly 27 percent from beyond the arc. The last game in the series they lost was a 114-75 blowout in which Harden only scored 10 points while shooting 18 percent from the field.
3 Crazy: Indiana Knocks Cleveland Out
One of the teams everyone has been sleeping on is the Indiana Pacers. Ever since they dealt Paul George to Oklahoma City in exchange for two young talents in Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, fans and critics alike thought the Pacers were entering rebuilding mode, which was far from the truth. Indiana surprised everyone and quickly became one of the best teams in the East.
They finished the regular season with a 48-34 record and the fifth seed in the conference.
Oladipo will most likely be selected as the Most Improved Player in the NBA after averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. He also led the league in steals with 2.4. But more than the individual stats, the reason we say Indiana could knock Cleveland out is because it happened during the regular season. The Pacers won the regular season series against the Cavs 3-1.
2 Crazy: Washington Knocks Toronto Out
No team is entering these playoffs with as many question marks as the Washington Wizards. After a surprising 2016-17 campaign in which they clinched the fourth seed in the East and took the Boston Celtics to seven games in the conference semifinals, the Wizards found themselves in a weird situation this season.
They had to play a majority of their games without their superstar, John Wall, who only played half of the season. The weird thing is that for a long time it seemed like they were better off without Wall. After he had surgery, they went on a crazy run before eventually balancing things out. However, what that run proves is that this is a team that can play without Wall, which means that they should be able to keep themselves in a game even while he is on the bench.
That is something Toronto should be looking out for because Wall is a player who can win a game in the final minutes if his teammates can keep it within reach while he rests.
1 Obvious: Warriors Win It All
Last but not least, we have the most obvious of scenarios for you. This is a given. No matter how good the Houston Rockets seemed to be during the regular season, no matter how good the OKC big three has been at times, and no matter how much help it looks like LeBron James could get from his teammates, the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the league.
If everything goes according to logic, they should win the NBA Championship.
After all, this is a team that has two of the top-five players in the NBA today, which is something we have seldom seen in the league.
Yes, they have struggled with injuries and even concentration throughout the regular season, but the playoffs are what matters, and you can be sure the Warriors will show up when they have to.
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