From East to West

nba-conferences

The NBA season is now done and the playoff seedings are confirmed with the difference for some of these teams being as little as 1 or 2 games.

Alot of people thought that Cleveland would cruise through to the finals again this year, but perhaps we should think again? Do the Warriors have something to fear after seeming untouchable all season?

It’s definitely playoff time. Are you ready?

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At #1 and with no real surprise is Cleveland.

The Cavs have not had the most glorious of seasons and we almost saw it coming. Now with the playoffs approaching we see LeBron doing some questionable things that are producing media headlines almost daily and talks about the team chemistry are said to at an all time low.

Definitely not something you want to hear going into April, and with that said, the Cavs are still in the East and still have LeBron James prepping for another post-season, stats will tell you that theres no better chance of going to a conference championship than that. We are however seeing an ageing LeBron and how much of a toll do these constant playoff runs take on James at this point in his career?

5-vresize-200-200-medium-0 56 Wins – 26 Losses

Toronto currently claim the #2 spot in the East and for this team the time to have a strong playoff run has never been more important than right now. Toronto did not have a positive experience last year as they had a good regular season and entered the playoffs only to be swept by the Wizards in what would be considered by that organisation as something they’d soon rather forget than find out what exactly happened.

The Raps however, have bounced back in spectacular fashion this year and with 10+ games left they can pass their season record from last year of 49-33. If Toronto are to pose a threat to the Cavs they do hold a 2-1 season record for momentum if they were to meet in the conference finals, but again for this Raptors team, this is their year for the taking.

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Just when everybody thought all hope was lost in Miami, the mafioso that is Pat Riley and the Heat organisation strike again with another playoff appearance in their sights. It’s unbelievable what this team has done to almost instantly rejuvenate their roster after 4 straight Finals appearances and then the departure of LeBron James. Dwayne Wade has shown no signs of slowing down and has bounced back to play on a team of relatively younger players mixed in with a few veterans.

It’s almost the perfect storm down in South Beach and with the emergence of Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson along with the steady play of Winslow. Then we get to their veterans leadership in Deng, Wade, Stoudamire and newly acquired Joe Johnson who have continued to give this team a real edge over the East.

At first the talk was that Miami would take a while to come back from the Big 3 era, and with 2 of them still in Miami with hopes that Bosh will make a return this season, the chances that we see the Heat back in the conference finals is no longer a farfetched thought.

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The Hawks are in a tough place this season and yet they come right in at #4 in the East and will see another post-season after coming off the franchises best winning season last year. As the Hawks blitzed teams last year, with some help from the sniper that is Kyle Korver there was alot of people that thought it would take them to the top. This didn’t go over well as they met the Cavs and the rest is history.

Since then, the Hawks lost DeMarre Carroll to the Raptors but have since maintained a pretty good roster. The team is positive and thinks that they can go far into the East playoffs and have health on their side which is sometimes more valuable than anything. Hawks are 11-3 in the last month which is comforting as April approaches and could be proof that the Hawks aren’t done yet.

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The East is wide-open from Atlanta down and Boston is no exception at this point in the season. While they have improved from last season and shown some of the most high energy and gritty defense that is enough to draw out the absolute best from their opponent. The Celtics picked up a bonus accolade with their leading scorer and point guard Isaiah Thomas being voted into this years All-Star game, yet with Brad Stevens coaching this team to another playoffs, how far does this team project to go?

Essentially Boston should be prepared for the 3 teams they are currently battling for higher seeding with – Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami. This team definitely could hang wiht any of those teams and most likely would not see a 4 game sweep like the Cavs handed to them.

Is Boston ready to be contending again, not right this moment, but the future actually looks legitimately bright and Boston is primed this year to be a lottery team or could even try to make a move to a true superstar player this upcoming offseason. Wherever they decide to go, you can be certain that this team will not give up once the playoffs start and for the team they face – be ready!

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The Hornets have a buzz about them lately (yes, I just did that) and after not making the playoffs last year, this team definitely seems like they have something to prove. For this team they have everything that it takes to make for an interesting series in the Eastern playoffs, but as for them making the Finals, unfortunately it just doesn’t look foreseeable. Not only do the Hornets not have a huge chance of making the Finals but they have a bigger issue that is present to the future of this team.

It must be said that this team has been very exciting to watch at times, and as good as that it for the city and their fans who have not been given many reasons to root for the home team as just a few years ago they were basically in the same boat as the 76ers are now. Players such as Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, Nic Batum, Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams can all enter free agency after this season, that doesn’t look good for the Hornets, especially if they plan to keep building.

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Remember that Pacers-Heat rivalry from a few years back? Long gone are those days and honestly it’s a shame for that franchise and more importantly for Paul George. Indiana went into a complete downward spiral after being a dominant force in the East  and now are just barely keeping above the 8th spot with no real playoff hopes in sight. Luckily they hold a few spots over the teams who are under the 8th spot and barring a major losing streak should see the Eastern playoffs once again, but most likely won’t stay long with the team they currently have.

The Pacers attempted to pair George with Monta Ellis with hopes they’d be a solid backcourt as well showing a promising rookie in Myles Turner who has been a great piece for Indiana. Still however, this team feels like it needs to add and subtract a little more before they can be considered relevant again in the East. I wonder what it would have been like if they never traded away Kawhi Leonard. *Insert Kanye Shrug*

5-vresize-200-200-medium-044 Wins – 38 Losses

WATCH THIS SPACE.

Yes thats right, why the hell would I be this excited about an 8th seed? Well just in case you haven’t been watching the Pistons too closely this year don’t feel too bad just yet, but in a few seasons assuming Stan Van Gundy is still at the helm and the core of their team is together  as well there is no reason that we don’t see them competing in the Eastern Conference Finals.

At this point in the season, the Pistons are boasting confidence and everybody in the team is saying the right things and with a NO BS coach like SVG its true when he says that his team will only go as far in the playoffs as good play will allow them. Of course, play good and you can beat almost any team, well for Detroit they are not short of talent, but talent only gets you so far, more importantly the Pistons are taking the right steps towards becoming a good team.

5-vresize-200-200-medium-0 73 Wins – 9 Losses

https://youtu.be/3qDEC17NqHc

See Exhibit A

See Exhibit B

5-vresize-200-200-medium-0 67 Wins – 15 Losses

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2JQarUh6A0

5-vresize-200-200-medium-0 55 Wins – 27 Losses

I don’t have a song for the Thunder so we’ll resume with a brief synopsis of OKC the only way I know how. Alot of talk has dominated this team since their playoff departure in 2012 and since then it’s been about when they’d be going back and how many Championships they can win after they get a taste of their first. Well, it’s 2016 and the Thunder have only been in the Western Conference Finals once since then which has left alot heads to be scratched as we all try to figure out what has this team been doing since then.

Simply put, OKC has had an unlucky ride after key injuries to both Westbrook and Durant that were either badly timed and what one could not do for the other, the team couldn’t do for both. The roster has changed so much over the years that at times you’d wonder if they even know what team stability even is anymore. With all the changes, even in coaching, the Thunder made moves this year to acquire some help that could help them in the playoffs. How far they’ll go is very questionable at this point in the season, which is not what you want to hear in March and even then it’s what could happen this offseason that has most Thunder fans worried.

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Clips gon’ clip right?

The Clippers are once again sitting pretty in the top 5 teams in the West for another year all while missing their other All-Star in Blake Griffin for the last month or so. They actually posted a surprisingly better winning record without Griffin for a stretch and other players got their chance to step up and take some responsibility.

Well, as it turns out, if the Clips hope to actually do anything this year then it will include Griffin and that is not up for debate at all. Honestly speaking, I don’t see the Clips in the Finals, but I do see them giving the West alot of of trouble depending on how far they go just from how they’ve held up against your Warriors, OKC and Spurs. We’ve all seen this movie before – if you give the Clippers 7 games you better be prepared for a long series when your A-game doesn’t show up.

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There’s no other way to say it, Portland was thought to be in for a rough patch after they had 4 players out of their starting 5 move on to other teams over the summer of 2015. It’s very rare that a team loses this many players and actually stay reasonably steady after 51 wins last year the Blazers are sitting on 40 wins with a few games up for grabs.

This current Blazers team is actually not that bad and the backcourt that is Lilliard and McCollum has proved to be nothing short of amazing, but it is well known that when the games on the line Dame knows the time *cue rimshot*. They are exciting to say the least and have the talent and team chemistry to get them through the first round of the playoffs.

Just like other ranked backcourts including Steph & Klay, Durant & Westbrook and Lowry & Derozan it doesn’t take much for Portland’s duo to take the game into their own hands, and have proven that teams need to respect them at all times much like the other teams aforementioned. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to give Portland the “sleeper” title after some of the performances we’ve witnessed this year and you can add all that with a team chemistry that is up there with the likes of the Warriors and Celtics alike.

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Dirk is still doing Dirk things and with a team that is more so a collective of players that wouldn’t likely see the starting five on most other teams. Obviously Nowitzki is the exception in all of this, and it’s looking likely that one of the best international players the NBA has ever seen will soon be hanging up the shoes for retirement.

The Mavericks have been very forward with their style of play this season – Gritty, Tough and whole bunch of other synonyms. They haven’t promised their fans some unimaginable goal and I don’t think they expect a whole lot from this team, but for now they are winning. At the end of the day what matters the most? Yeah, winning. For Dallas it doesn’t matter who does it, and when we talk about teams that have undeniable chemistry and unselfishness, then look no further than the Mavericks.

5-vresize-200-200-medium-0 42 Wins – 40 Losses

The Grizzlies have had a rough season and thats just putting it nicely since injuries have occurred, so have the losses of both players and games. The Griz have played more than 25 players this season in their lineups which is obviously a bi-product of the 6 players on the teams injured list.

They also brought in some new additions after doing a 3-team trade, and did so rather late into the season, forcing their new players to become acclimated rather very quickly all while holding onto the 5th seed in the West. So what are the Grizzlies ultimately playing for? Well ideally they want to keep their first round pick which would only change if they didn’t actually make the playoffs.

5-vresize-200-200-medium-0 41 Wins – 41 Losses

 It’s been a year of downs for the Houston Rockets as they sneak into the 8th seed of the Western Conference on the back of James Harden who has remained as one of the most gifted offensive players in the NBA currently. As much as the Rockets would like to forget everything that happened this season, it seems like the offseason will answer alot of those questions as they look  toward the future.

While it can still be seen as a great feat to get to the playoffs this now means that they will see the Golden State Warriors in the first round and theres not enough optimism in the world to think they’ll make it out of that one. The Rockets did give them a good series last year, but that was then and this is now. The Rockets are different and the Warriors are arguably the best team in the NBA.

 

 

 

 

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