Pro basketball is the sport when most often, the best team is crowned champions at the end of the season. There isn’t the survive-and-advance format of college hoops and college and pro football, or the “get hot at the right time” theme that takes over so many MLB and NHL postseasons. No, in the NBA very rarely does a better team fall in a seven-game series. But there is always something that grabs headlines.
Here are the top five stories that I think will come out of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
1. The Los Angeles Clippers will be upset in the first round.
This may very well have been the last hoorah for the Griffin-Paul-Jordan era of Clippers basketball — its most successful era. Unfortunately for them, they are stuck looking up at two historic teams in the West: the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. To add injury to insult, Blake Griffin missed a ton of playing time and will have to get back in the swing of things on the fly. Now the Clippers will face an over-achieving Portland team that is playing with house money and two prolific scoring guards. This adds up to devastation in my opinion. Don’t be shocked if the Clippers fall short in the first round.
2. The Cleveland Cavaliers will coast to the NBA Finals.
Not a big surprise here. Although the Eastern Conference is significantly improved from top to bottom, I do not predict the Cavs will have too tough a time in reaching the championship. Toronto had a great year, but they so often fell short of taking that next step this season. It felt like they remained two games behind the Cavs all year, and when they had a chance to gain some games in the standings, they would lose. Maybe the unthinkable happens, I just don’t see it.
3. The Golden State Warriors will make it to the WCF unscathed.
Their 73 wins will become 81 wins quite rapidly. I think Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson & Co. will absolutely DESTROY the Houston Rockets and then Portland Trail Blazers in the first two rounds of the Playoffs. I don’t even think they will win a game by less than 10 points in that span. But look out!
4. The San Antonio Spurs will send the Warriors home.
Now here is where I shock you. I believe the Spurs will defeat the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Something about having to face Gregg Popovich seven times in two weeks just never seems to work out well for the opposition. Now I know what I wrote in the introduction, but the thing is: I think the Spurs are better than the Warriors. Nothing about the Dubs scares the Spurs. They’ve seen it all, done it all, won it all. A great series will see the San Antonio Spurs prevail, shocking the world!
5. LeBron loses to San Antonio for the third time.
If it weren’t for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Gregg Popovich, LeBron James would be a four-time NBA Champion right now. In 2007 and 2014 however, the Spurs defeated the Cavs and Heat to put a cloud over LeBron’s legacy. It will happen again in 2016. I do think this will be an epic series, much like the 2013 NBA Finals when LeBron beat the Spurs, but this time San Antonio will come out on top.
Not too many surprise here — well except for that BIG one. I do think, however, the top teams will give each other a dogfight. At the end of the day, all we can hope for is an injury free postseason, and the talent will take care of the rest.
What do you think of this list? If you agree, let me know. If you disagree, tell me where.