Since my bracket has been balled up in the garbage for a week now, I figure it’s time to move on to the NBA. We have reached the home stretch of the season with roughly 15-20 games left for each team. Now is the time to start handicapping the NBA Playoffs. Who will lift the trophy in June? Here’s a breakdown of the five teams with the best shot:
5. San Antonio Spurs – Yawn. I know. But the Spurs are fourth in the NBA in points per game, and lead the league in 3 point percentage Not as boring as their reputation, right?
The Good: Tony Parker is playing one of the best seasons of his career. The Frenchman is leading the team in points and assists, proving to be elite offensively. Besides Parker, the Spurs have three point shooters galore and a better coach than every other team on this list. The shooters can keep the Spurs in every game, and Coach Popovich will ensure the discipline to execute when needed.
The Not So Good: Age and inexperience. Seems like an oxymoron, but Manu Ginobili and Duncan, two of the Spurs’ leaders, are old and have injury concerns (Manu) or declining production (Duncan). On the flip side, many of the Spurs’ shooters weren’t with the team for their championship runs in the early 2000’s. That relative inexperience could hurt them during crunch time in the playoffs.
4. Los Angeles Lakers – Adding Ramon Sessions at the trade deadline doesn’t seem like a title-shifting acquisition, but he is the perfect addition for this year’s Laker team.
The Good: Before trading for Sessions, the Lakers had a gaping hole at point guard. Derek Fisher and Steve Blake (hereby referred to as Scumbag Steve) were huge liabilities. Sessions adds backcourt stability by scoring and leading the offense better than Fish or Scum could today. Well, like a week ago for Fisher. But that’s beside the point. In four games with the Lakers, Sessions has averaged more points and assists than Fisher and Blake COMBINED. He’s even earned a spot in the starting line up, despite Coach Mike Brown’s pledge to stick with Scumbag Steve.
The Not So Good: The Lakers still depend on a supporting cast of Metta Worldpeace, Matt Barnes, and Josh McRoberts. Yikes. BUT if their best players have it going, the Lakers are championship contenders.
3/2. Miami Heat/Oklahoma City Thunder – Despite the score of Sunday’s game, these teams are evenly matched. The Thunder get the edge for now, though, based on the win.
For Miami: Pretty much.
For The Thunder: A less famous top three: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden(‘s beard), who are almost as productive. Harden will probably be the 6th Man of the Year and has played big minutes as back up Point Guard since the loss of Eric Maynor.
The Not So Good: Each team has a unique problem with turnovers. For the Heat, a large part of their success comes from transition points generated from turnovers. Without them, their halfcourt offense fluctuates from “stagnant” to “hideous” to “vomit-inducing.” The Thunder tends to turn the ball over too much at times. Westbrook is a dynamic point guard, but his decision making, though improved, still fails him sometimes.
1. Chicago Bulls – They have produced as well as the Heat and Thunder without the reigning MVP or several other key players for a combined 59 games.
The Good: The Bulls have a 3 game lead in the East and the inside track on homecourt advantage. The Bulls are great at home (20-4) so that could be a big edge.
The team also boasts the league’s second best defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and a deep roster with a supporting cast of Luol Deng , Joakim Noah, CJ Watson, John Lucas III (huge during Derrick Rose’s absence), and Omer Asik (defensive anchor of the team’s second unit). Even if Rip Hamilton can’t give the team anything this year, the Bulls will have the most complete team headed to the playoffs.
The Not So Good: While they are 3-1 against the other teams on this list (4 point loss to Miami on the road), they have yet to play Oklahoma City, and still have two games against Miami. This backloaded schedule poses a risk if they drop a couple of those games.
Also, Carlos Boozer, the team’s starting Power Forward, spends many fourth quarter moments on the bench and paints his hairline. Neither of these truths instill confidence that he can deliver in the team’s biggest moments. The Bulls have a great defense, but if they’re in a game where they need points, Boozer hasn’t proven he can take the pressure to score off of Derrick Rose. This killed the team in last year’s playoff series with the Heat.
Are you happy with where your team ranks? Do you think another team deserves consideration? Any key points you think I missed? Let me know!
"Are you happy with where your team ranks?"
No. My team (the Bucks) just lost to the team that they are fighting to take the last playoff spot from (the Knicks).
As soon as I heard the Lakers got Sessions, I knew that was a huge upgrade. That eliminates their main deficiency. As a Bucks fan, I watched Sessions get 24 assists in a game. The dude can play, and when he's at best, your fourth best player, he can do some damage.
But if I had to put money on a team that wins the title, I have to go with the Bulls, and it kills me to say that.
I guess you are from around them parts.lol. I met one Bucks' fan and that was on St. Patty's day. Not gonna lie though, with the upcoming schedule and Amar'e out, it could be trouble for my Knicks and celebration for the Bucks…til they get trounced in the first round.
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Whoever gets that eighth spot is going to be four-and-out against the Bulls.
I'm happy with the Bulls this year, but I want to Miami get shut down. In my opinion, they're the only true threat out there. If Miami is out of it, nothing should stop Chicago.
You a fool if you put the Bulls ahead of the Heat, Miami has mad players who've got that playoff experience. Chicago still can't get a 2 guard, same problems from last year.
Miami is not the biggest threat to Chicago, because Miami can't play defense against teams that are their size and speed. If you notice, Miami only beats teams like the Lakers and Celtics because their faster and/or bigger.
At 35-12 Miami beats a lot of teams. More than likely Chicago should see Miami in the Eastern conference finals which makes them their biggest threat up to that point.
Lebron's teams always have beast records, but get bodied in the playoffs because their defense sucks against better teams and their offense can't score against a real defense. I could see any of these teams getting Miami in 5: Chicago, Boston or NYK. And I don't even like the Knicks, I just know that when I watch Miami play they don't have it. Their offense is too spotty, doesn't show up in big games at big moments. The playoffs are a totally different breed and that's something that Lebron ain't never learned.
Actually, you're wrong on the reason LeBron's Cavs teams didn't go as far as expected in the playoffs…they didn't have enough fire power on offense for the playoffs. LeBron was the only one showing up. He did his job offensively and defensively. No one else stepped up consistenly. Why do you think he wanted to pair up with Wade and Bosh? Because their defense is so awesome? Lol.
As far as their offense they average the most points per game in the East at about 100 and is 3rd best overall in the NBA and is averaging about 100ppg against the Bulls this year which is about right on their season average. And last year LeBron and the Heat offense and defense stepped up in huge moments against Boston and Chicago in last years playoffs. No one seems to remember that, though.
And LeBron more than understands the playoffs are a different breed…another reason he wanted to go to South Beach. Dudes been in the league 9 years and missed the playoffs maybe 3 times…the 6 or so times he was in the playoffs he made 2 NBA finals. LeBron knows…trust, he knows. Just need to get it done….will he? Time will tell.
You arguing just to argue with me.
I'm just providing a different perspective based on my opinion and what I see. Nothing more nothing less, bruh.
I really wasn't trying to argue with you but just point out that that the team has some weaknesses. Those was all facts… Lebron's team always have beast records and fail in the playoffs. He needs a chip for that to be false. The Heat get bodied by teams that are their size or speed. That's why the Bulls put them in stitches all the time. The Lakers straight up punished them already.
Overall, I ain't never going to have faith in a Lebron team until he's running the clock out in the last game of the NBA Finals. He done did a whole lot in his career already and ain't brought home a chip. I can't have faith when he's done it several times already… no chips.
Knicks got a chance! I have no real quantifiable reason to make this assertion. We're barely holding on to the 8th spot, Carmelo Anthony is barely above 40% from the field, our point guards turn the ball over like 10 times a game, we're breaking in a new coach and Amar'e is probably out for the rest of the season. But Jared Jeffries having his best season as a pro though. He's hurt too though. And he's still Jared Jeffries.
Stil… Knicks got a chance man. You know why, because if you're a real Knicks fan, the Knicks ALWAYS have a chance. This is our year! When you're second best player goes down all that means is that it's an opportunity for your best player to stop playing like your 4th best player and start playing like your 1st best player. #KnicksFanLogic – it makes sense.
Truthfully though, if some how, some way we could get up above the 7th seed, I feel like we have a chance. I feel like we match up well against Orlando, Atlanta and Philly. As I see it, that's really our only chance getting out of the 1st round.
As far as all those other teams…
I just don't believe in Chicago in a 7 game series without Derrick Rose. If he misses any time in the playoffs I think they're vulnerable. It's one thing for him to be out 7 games in a row against different opponents every night. Coach Thibs can scheme his way around that. But you can scheme your way around 7 games in a row against the same team.
The Heat still look like the best team in the league, despite their two recent losses, but they still seem to lack that championship pedigree.
OKC to me is vulnerable because I don't believe in Westbrook and Durant co-existing throughout the playoffs.
Spurs seem like a team built to win a whole bunch of regular season games. I see another first round exit for them.
Lakers ownership ain't go the money it used to have so they are trying to fool the world into thinking they're contenders until they can get Kobe's huge contract off the books when he retires. Then they'll start over. In the meantime they just wanna make it to the second round and be competitive.
So since none of those teams have a shot in hell … KNICKS BABY!
In closing: Dolan Sucks.
Disclaimer: Laker Fan here.
However, I am very objective. I believe the Lakers have a great chance in the West because typically coaches shorten their bench in the playoffs and …well…the Lakers have the worst bench so that has to better our chances, lol. We get virtually nothing from the 3 spot and the bench so although the chance is great, I'm not overly optimistic just yet. I need to see the first round or two of the playoffs to see how the team reacts to actual days off in between games.
Now as far as who EYE think will win it all I really can't see anyone else but the Heat taking it until they get beat.
When they are locked in they are the best defensive team in basketball (no shade Chicago) and they turn turnovers into points as effectively as Jesus turns water into wine.
They'll probably get Chicago in the conference finals and usually in match ups like those (emphasis on usually) the team with more talent on the floor at the end of games have the better odds. James did a great job of closing out that series not only on the offensive end, but by locking up Rose on critical possessions down the stretch of defense.
Their biggest threat coming out of the west will be OKC or the Lakers. They should be able to handle them both (albeit not easily) in a seven game series.
Honest opinion: Lakers.
I don't see a team beating the Lakers in a 4 game series this year. Sessions gives us the ability to beat the Thunder. Our defense is super stingy. Mike Brown is loosening up his grip on that asinine offense he was trying to run. If we don't internally collapse, we'll be winning series. My only fear is that they'll be long and we'll be tired/fatigued.
I don't have any faith in the teams out the East this year. Mainly because no matter who they send, they can't deal with the best 4 teams in the West in a series. Only people who got faith in the East are people who's team is in the East.
I hope you're right, J….God I hope you're right!! lol.
Nice article. I agree with 90% of what was mentioned but come playoff time you have to add two more teams to the occasion: Dallas and Memphis. I will get to Dallas in a second, but I know what people are going to think 'Memphis?' but to excel in the NBA playoffs as an underdog team, you need a few key elements:
* You need at least one big man that is skilled (Memphis has two…Gasol and Z-Bo)
* Said big man or men has be kinda of a shady, mean dude (Memphis has one and half..Z-Bo counts as one and Gasol is the half).
*Good to aight perimeter play (The Grizzles arguably have the best young 1-2 guard punch in the West with OJ Mayo and Mike Conley)
*A superstar (ok…calling Rudy Gay a superstar is stretching it…but he's on the fringe)
*They can't be scared
cont…..Now if you watched the playoffs last year, you saw them eliminate the Spurs and then take the Thunder to seven games, so the fact that they are even better than that this year is scary. Plus Z-Bo just got back into the lineup. I know people say 'but he's been hurt' Look, Z-Bo is the type of dude that WISHES he could get hurt just so he doesn't have to play until the playoffs (e.g. Shaq) Long story short, they should slide in around a 5 or 6 seed and I seriously doubt that the top seeds in the West want to see them in the first round.
Memphis would definitely be the number 6 team if I had included that many. They are dangerous for sure. I Marc Gasol is having a great year, and ZBo is 20/10 when healthy.
My only concerns with them are the backcourt. Conley and Mayo are up and down too much to be counted on IMO. Plus, this year they can't sneak up on anyone. If ZBo isn't 100% (doesn't seem like it), they are still a piece away.
Solid team for sure, I just don't see them as legit title threats this year.
Dallas so far this year has made people go…eh….but going into the playoffs last year, they were playing around the same. All of the attention was paid to the Thunder and the Lakers and Dallas somehow slid under the radar. Dirk's game is made for the playoffs. His numbers now are 'ok' and some nights he doesn't look like he wants to be there, but in the playoffs when games get tight, it is extremely tough to guard a seven footer that can shoot the three or drive with the same results. Now, losing 'The Franchise' (Tyson Chandler) and D-Money (DeShawn Stevenson) is going to hurt this squad a lot because you need guys like this on a championship run, but they have actually been quietly putting together 2 and 3 game winning streaks here and there. Hey, like in boxing, you have to knock the champ out to win….you're not going to win on points….
Bottom line, Memphis probably won't win it all and maybe Dallas was a one year hit wonder, but I wouldn't want to rule either one of these teams out of the discussion
I hear all that … but what about the Knicks tho????
HAHAHA! Uh….the Knicks play in the greatest city in the world….how's that?
Nah, on the real….you know the Knicks are my team….actually, I'm pretty sure if the Knicks didn't have to see the Bulls/Heat in the first round that they could make some noise……but….*losing 'Price is Right' noise* they do….
Jerusalem > NYC
I see the Thunder taking it all.
I'm just praying to whatever gods may be to sanctify Amar'Es back, Melos groin PAUSE and Lin's knee. injuries killing us at the WORST time!
Amar'e been a injury liability since day one. Y'all shouldn't have gave him all that money. I would restructure the deal in the offseason or trade him. It needs to be incentive based. You essentially have another Allan Houston on your hands.
Amare's clock on his knees is ticking faster than Troy Davis and Tookie combined. Its a wrap on him after 1 or 2 seasons, he gonna be like Antonio McDyess or Elton Brand.
His knees have been fine. The back is new. He'll be aite.
The cartilage in his knees was only designed to last for 6 or 7 years, that's why his lift and athleticism isn't what it was 3 years go. It will slowly continue to decline based on the nature of the surgery he had. It was a temporary fix, not permanent. If he's smart he'll hit up Kobe for the German connect.
The Thunder will not take it all, Miami and LA have a better shot than they do due to the veteran experience.
you guys are delusional. They have Perk and Derek Fisher for veteran experience. And theyve been playing high level playoff games for 2 years. Dont sleep
Those are not even the top 4 best players on the team, you need at least one of those guys to have been in the finals.
Call me crazy but i’m not giving up on my Celtics…with Philly’s inconsistancy and the Knicks injuries they can win the Division and end up a 4 seed win the first round matchup and give Chicago hell. On that note however even I can’t see them beating Miami even if D Wade bags LeBron’s mother this time around. On the west its OKC or bust…their biggest obstacle is Westbrook remembering who’s Batman.
I really really really want the Celtics to not be done, but I think they are. Too many injuries. Losing Green, Pietrus, and O'Neal for the season has killed their front court. Greg Steisma or whatever is not somebody you can go to war with, lol.
Their Top 4 are still solid, but they have no depth due to injuries IMO.
Even w/ Dirk and JET, the Mavs are a 1 shot wonder like the Heat in 2006. They lost key members of the 2nd unit in Barea, Butler (pre-injury), Peja, and a fairweather Stevenson. Clearly “Lam Lam” is a waste of space and by the time he snaps out of his whatever, it’ll be too late to really matter. In the WCF, I think it’ll be the Thunder vs Lakers.
In the ECF, it’ll be the Heat and Bulls again. John Lucas has stepped up immensely and his confidence is super-high right now w/ Rose out. If he’s playing at the level he’s playing right now, come May, that’ll be the difference maker between last year and this year’s winner