Home Other Stuff We Like Readjusting the NBA Championship Contenders at the All-Star Break

Readjusting the NBA Championship Contenders at the All-Star Break

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(More than) Halfway through the NBA season, and things are upside down.

The Hawks are good.

The Warriors look like contenders.

And every team that’s usually dominant has some flaw that gives you juuuuuuuust enough doubt to write them off.

But someone has to win. And that’s what I’m here for. Time to recalibrate the championship odds from before the season.

Who’s going to win the championship now? Because it doesn’t seem like it’ll be Cleveland like I predicted. *sigh*

Golden State Warriors –

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The Warriors have the league’s third best offense and best defense by efficiency, a distinct homecourt advantage, and elite talent at two positions.

Yet, I don’t think I stand alone in doubting their championship hopes.

Without Andrew Bogut in the middle, the Warriors feel too small to compete for a title…although the only team that could really expose that is Memphis.

Like a lot of teams, the Warriors’ chances will come down to matchups. If every team is healthy, I have them as a viable threat to make the Finals.

Final verdict: Championship contender

Memphis Grizzlies –

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Speaking of Memphis, the Grizzlies are another team that never really feels like a championship contender, but finds itself in the running this year. They even added Jeff Green through midseason trade. More than anything, that signifies they believe their championship window is open, and I tend to agree.

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Similar to the last few years, Memphis is built on defense, scoring enough to win…but never enough to make it to the Finals.

So does Jeff Green push them over the top? Let’s hope so, I win $25 if they do.

Final verdict: Western Conference favorite…not because I have money on the line.

Atlanta Hawks –

Always looked like Pac Man to me as a kid :-/
Always looked like Pac Man to me as a kid :-/

The Hawks have seemingly solved offense.

They have guys all over the court that can shoot AND (despite what most seem to believe), a go-to guy in Al Horford.

If they need a basket, the Hawks can throw it down low to Horford and let him go to work. Or they can find him an open jumper. They’re good. But they’re also the Hawks. And Atlanta sports are not to be trusted.

Why don’t I think the Hawks can win the title? They just finished a run of 19 straight wins, but that feels more like the Houston Rockets team that won 22 straight in 2008 (never considered a contender) than the Miami Heat team that won 27 straight in 2013 (won the title).

Final verdict: Eastern Conference Finals…just because they’re the Hawks.

Now to the teams we thought would win the title before the season:

Cleveland Cavaliers –

Seem to be getting on track now. Timofey Mozgov was resurrected after this and is the competent center we knew they’d need when Anderson Varejao went down with his annual injury.

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Is Kevin Love good again? Will Kyrie Irving raise his game in the playoffs?

Fair questions, but the Cavs are still my pick to win the East.

San Antonio Spurs –

I won’t be the one to doubt the Spurs. They’re Spursing this season again; getting better as the season progresses.

HOWEVER, last season was the first time they had been to back-to-back Finals appearances. I’ll grudgingly put them in the Western Conference Finals.

Oklahoma City Thunder –

They will be the most dangerous 8-seed in the history of the NBA. But let’s break down their chances once they’re actually in the playoffs.

So if you’re keeping track, I have Memphis playing Cleveland in the Finals, and $25 in my pocket.

What about you? Has your preseason pick changed since the start of the season? Have another team in the hunt? Houston? Portland?

Hit the comments and let me know!

Comment(9)

  1. I wonder how much of the Jeff Green acquisition was a silent pitch to keep Marc Gasol. This seems like their last shot at the Finals in the Gasol era. Golden State may finally get over that hump the way Draymond Green has been playing. I have no faith in the Thunder even if they do make it in as an 8th seed. Far as the East, I don’t think it matter who comes out because in 6-7 games, they’ll get washed by anyway. Hawks looked nice vs. GSW, but I don’t see them doing that in a series.

    1. A Hawks/Warriors Finals would make a basketball nerd like me giddy.

      The West is way stronger, but I think there’s something to the relative “ease” of coming out of the East. Plus the best out of the East can run with the best out of the West…we’ve seen that the past few years.

      If you slotted all teams 1-16, regardless of conference, you’d end up with a 3-1 West-East Final Four though.

    1. Just like the Hawks…hard for me to take them seriously as a threat. Since the Hawks (IMO) are further ahead, I went with them.

      Happy to be wrong though. I like the Wiz. You think Paul Pierce can be a championship SF in 2015? That position is their only real weakness to me.

      1. I can see why people would be hesitant on the Hawks but not the Wizards. They went to the Conf Semis last year. They returned the most players in their core of any team in the NBA outside of maybe the Bulls. Wall is a legit Top 5 PG in the league and healthy. The crazy thing is people will say returning players is important to playoff play in every sport except the NBA, it’s wild. And Pierce doesn’t need to be a championship SF because they have options at the position with Pierce, Porter and Butler. Also the Wizards have the best second team in the east right now. I’m telling y’all take a look and watch. They may stumble from time to time but that team could go far.

  2. I’m still going Cleveland in the East because as good as the Hawks look i think they can be figured out in a playoff series. In the West, the Curry fan in me says Warriors but Memphis seems to have figured it out, the Jeff Green pickup was nice but whats been slept on is how good Mike Conley has gotten.

  3. Yeah, I am going Cleveland as well, even though the Wizards are my team. I am scared that Beal can not stay healthy and if Friday night’s game against Cleveland was any indication of the wizards play without him, we have no real chance. On the other hand, if Beal is healthy, watch out for the Wizards. I believe we are about 2-3 years and a 1-2 players away.

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