With the NBA playoffs just underway, we have already seen some exciting games played. This year’s NBA playoffs is sure to be one of the most exciting we have seen in a long time with many storylines.
Will the Cavs and Warriors meet in the Finals again?
This past offseason was one of the most interesting in recent history with 8 all-stars from the previous season changing teams as well as many other roster shakeups. Even though the last offseason has been one of the craziest of all time, most people still expected the Cavs and Warriors to meet in the Finals for the fourth straight time. Fast forward to April 2018, nothing has gone according to plan for either the Cavs or the Warriors. For the Cavs, none of the three players they acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade from the Celtics are still on the team. They also traded away half their roster at the trade deadline and have been a dysfunctional mess all season. For the Warriors, even though they finished second in the western conference, injuries have plagued them all year. Going into the playoffs, the Cavs will have a tough road back to the Finals, and with their horrible defense, Lebron will have to dominate in order for them to make it past the Raptors and the 76ers. The Warriors are probably the favorites in the western conference especially since Steph Curry is supposed to return in the second round.
Prediction: I think the Warriors will beat the Rockets in a close series in the Western Conference Finals and the Cavs will scrape by the Raptors and Sixers in two close series to make it to the Finals for the fourth straight year.
How far will the young Philadelphia 76ers team go in the playoffs?
Going into the season, no one really knew what to make of the 76ers who had a lot of young but unproven talent. The Sixers finished 52-30 and offseason additions Ben Simmons, who is the favorite for Rookie of the Year, JJ Redick, and Markelle Fultz, all proved to be valuable contributors to the young team. The Sixers ended the season with a 16 game winning streak to get the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. For 76ers fans, the season has already been a success since they weren’t supposed to contend for a championship for another couple years. The Sixers have a good chance of making the Eastern Conference Finals with the Miami Heat in the first round and the injury-plagued Boston Celtics in the second round. The question is then whether they can beat the Cavs or the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Prediction: While this has been a very good season for the Sixers, I think they are too inexperienced to beat the playoff experienced Raptors or Cavs.
Which young team in the playoffs is best positioned for success over the next 5 years?
This year in the playoffs, there are several young teams who many have dubbed “the teams of the future”. These teams include the Bucks, the Timberwolves, the 76ers, the Celtics, and the Pelicans. While for the next couple years, I expect the Warriors to continue to win the title, I do expect one of these teams to contend for the title after that. Of these teams, the Celtics are the best positioned to “win now” with established stars with playoff experiences like Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, and Kyrie Irving, but also have lots of young talent in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart. The 76ers, Bucks, and Timberwolves have been hyped up for a few years now about their potential. The 76ers are coming off of a very successful 50 win season, whereas the Bucks and the Timberwolves underwhelmed this year. Giannis was dominant this year, but the Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd and many supporting pieces were pretty disappointing. The Timberwolves were expected to contend in the Western Conference after adding Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague in the offseason but underwhelmed and just snuck into the playoffs as the 8th seed. The Pelicans are on the list because of Anthony Davis…
Prediction: Over the next 5 years I think the Celtics will be real contenders and will make it to the Finals at least once. However, beyond 5 years from now, I think that the 76ers have the best young talent and they will be the team to beat after the Celtics have their run.