The NBA is composed of 30 teams. After the season tipped-off last October 16, a total of 1,230 regular season games were played in the U.S. and Canada (Toronto). From the original 30, a total of 14 teams were eliminated. Only the top 8 squads per conference qualified to join the playoffs, which began last April 13.
From the 16 teams that entered the NBA Playoffs, we’re down to 8. If this were another sport, it’s called the quarterfinals. What comments can we deduce so far?
One, the Golden State Warriors is Number One. Led by the unstoppable force named Kevin Durant, GSW is, by far, the team poised to collect their 4th NBA ring in five years. There are websites that provide real-time odds and, after their 2-0 lead against the Houston Rockets, the Warriors are now -200 favorites to win the title. (Your $200 bet will win you only $100.)
Durant. Curry. Thompson. Green. Igoudala. How can you bet against this formation? They’re the Avengers and, for everyone else, it’s an end game.
The Houston Rockets, we thought (and many hoped), would topple the Warriors, like they almost did last year. But that’s looking unlikely. Chances are, after extinguishing the team of James Harden and Chris Paul, the next challenge for GSW in the Western Finals will be easy prey.
Denver or Portland? What a scintillating 4OT game yesterday! But either team won’t pose a major Thanos-like problem for Golden State.
The East is more exciting. After stealing Game 1 in Milwaukee, we expected the Boston Celtics to sustain the momentum and overwhelm Giannis Antetokounmpo. Given the erratic wins and losses of the Celtics in the regular season, what we witnessed in the playoffs was the rejuvenated Celtics. They swept the Indiana Pacers and extinguished the Bucks in Game 1 for a 5-game winning streak.
Celtics all the way to the NBA Finals, right? Not so fast. They lost Game 2 and lost again at TD Garden yesterday. It’s back to the same erratic performances for Boston.
My choice in the East? The 76ers. Back in November, my wife Jasmin and I had the chance to watch Philadelphia play the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Arena. The experience was electrifying. Joel Embiid, JJ Redick and Ben Simmons were the stars. Then they added Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Today, they’re much stronger and are leading the Toronto Raptors, 2-1.
My forecast? Warriors-Trail Blazers and Bucks-76ers; Warriors-76ers in the final with California winning again.
The side talk has been on the 2019-2020 season given the list of the upcoming free agents: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kristaps Porzingis, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler.
Imagine the scenario of Zion Williamson landing with the Knicks and Durant and Irving joining the rookie in New York? This will vault the lowest-performing team (17-65 this season) into the top spot.
For Lakers fans, how about Kawhi joining LeBron? Or is Kawhi flying to LA but the other LA team: the Clippers? The possibilities are irrestible.