Six months, eighty-two games, thirty teams, now, down to sixteen. The NBA’s elite from the East and West have been determined, and with that, the real competition begins.
Basketball fans from all over the world have their eyes set on one of the most awaited and action-packed legs of the NBA season – the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Eight of the best teams from each conference have fought with their hearts on fire to earn their place as one of the NBA’s best. From here on out, they will no longer be playing for positioning, highlights, or chasing down personal and team milestones. From here on out, it’s all about bringing home the ultimate prize– the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The best two teams who competed in last year’s finals are leading their respective conferences once again and, as expected, fans are already anticipating a possible Finals rematch between the East’s Cleveland Cavaliers and the West’s Golden State Warriors. However, the road to the Finals is still too far for this matchup to be guaranteed, especially with all the other teams being much more improved than they were last year.
The Warriors made history by registering the best season record ever of 73–9 breaking the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72-10, while the Spurs made a stellar run of their own, tying the best home record of 40-1 and an equally impressive 67-15 season record. Two more teams that are proven to be legitimate threats to the Warriors’ return to the Finals are the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams are deep enough to challenge the Warriors’ supremacy with the Chris Paul and Blake Griffin-led Clippers and the dynamic all-around superstars of the Thunder Russel Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Last year’s playoffs saw a dominant Cavalier run led by future Hall-of-Famer Lebron James. However, this season revealed just how much more competitive the East has become with the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks surging to dethrone ‘The King’ and his Cavs as their conference’s best. Both teams possess multiple weapons in their arsenal that will definitely pose problems to the Cavaliers’ renowned defense. Given that the Cavaliers will heading into the playoffs under new head coach Tyronn Lue, James and his All-Star teammates may need to level up their play to reach the Finals.
All teams will have to win a best-of-seven series in order to move on to the next round. Each series is guaranteed to be a chess match as the NBA Playoffs is where the league’s best stars and basketball minds shine the brightest. From here on out, all teams and their legions of fans will be on a roller coaster ride where absolutely anything can happen.
Six months, eighty-two games, thirty teams, now, down to sixteen. Win or go home. Let the games begin.