The NBA Playoffs are quickly approaching, and I think everyone knows who the clear favorites are — the Golden State Warriors, which have a great chance to set the best NBA regular season record ever. The Warriors won the championship last year, and the team picked up right where it left off, setting a record for most wins without a loss to start the season.
You can attribute a lot of the Warriors’ accomplishments to the unbelievable play of the reigning MVP, guard Stephen Curry, who I think is going to win MVP again without a doubt. But it is not just Curry who made this team able to challenge Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls’ 72-win season. The entire team is made up of great players, and they all play together well. Klay Thompson is one of the best shooting guards in the game. As one of the best 3-point shooting duos in the game, Thompson and Curry make the Warriors a nearly unbeatable force. Include forward Draymond Green, who is leading the league in triple-doubles this season, and you have three of the top players in the NBA on the same team playing on the best home court in professional basketball.
The Warriors are undefeated at home this season and are going to have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. As long as a key player doesn’t get some unbelievable injury, the Warriors will take the championship with ease.
The only team I think stands a chance to win the championship is also in the Western Conference — the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are always a great team, and I think their amazing season is overshadowed by what the Warriors are doing. But the Spurs are also undefeated at home this year and are only five games behind the Warriors. The Spurs stacked up their roster this season by adding forward Lamarcus Aldridge to their already loaded roster. One of the oldest and best centers, Tim Duncan, has remained healthy alongside one of the league’s best point guards, Tony Parker. In addition to Duncan and Parker, forward Kawhi Leonard is one of the top five best players in the league and the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Spurs are looking amazing and probably are the only team that can beat the Warriors. If those two teams meet, it would have to be in the Western Conference Finals, which would make one of the best series in a few years. I would take the Warriors in seven games over the Spurs.
The Eastern Conference is the weaker conference by far, and it has been for the last few years. I do think the Cleveland Cavaliers will be back in the Finals this year because they have LeBron James, who is one of the all-time greats. He has made it to five NBA finals in a row and will look to make it to another one this year. The only team that can challenge the Cavs is the Toronto Raptors, which fell during playoffs last year and were upset in the first round. A good question to ask is do the Cavaliers have the firepower to beat a team from the Western Conference? The Cavs have top-tier point guard Kyrie Irving, but he still has not been able to put it all together and take a leap to the next level of greatness. Forward Kevin Love has had a good year, but nothing like the years he had when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I still believe trading forward Andrew Wiggins for Love was the biggest mistake the Cavs made. I think the team would have won last year if it had Wiggins.
Regardless, Cleveland would have had a better chance if Kevin Love stayed healthy instead of injuring his shoulder during the first round of the playoffs. Perhaps we will just have to see what happens this year. San Antonio can give the defending champs a run for their money, so the Western Conference Finals could get interesting. But it’s the Warriors’ championship to lose.