The NBA Just Finished a Great Regular Season
But All of It Means Nothing
The NBA regular season has just finished and that means the playoffs are starting. Not only did this season feature some great MVP candidates in Stephan Curry and James Harden, but it also highlighted the return of Lebron James to Cleveland and return of injury-plagued Derrick Rose. Let's take a closer look at some of the storylines to watch for in this years playoffs and see if the moments can live up to the hype:
Can the Golden State Warriors Keep Up Their Pace?
The Golden State Warriors were an absolute wrecking ball in the league this year. Not only did they finish 2nd in offense and first in defense, but they only lost twice at home. Which is a good thing considering they have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Led by lights out shooter and MVP favorite Stephan Curry, the Warriors are led by a rookie head coach and have yet to reach the finals. Could this be their year or is a big upset coming? Either way they should be exciting to watch!
Are the Spurs Able to Keep Winning?
The San Antonio Spurs have been a mainstay in deep playoff runs for what seems like the last 2 decades. After getting off to a shaky start and questionable play from veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, the defending NBA champs picked things up after the all-star break. Lead by Kawhi Leonard's infectious energy and Tim Duncan, who turns 39 on April 25th, the Spurs can never be counted out. They finished with 55 wins and are lead by one of the greatest coaches in the game, Gregg Popovich, who preserves his players stamina like no one else. Can they stay healthy and beat the upstart Warriors, or will they finally run out of gas? As Lebron James can attest to, you never bet against the San Antonio Spurs.
How Competitive Will the East Be?
The Eastern conference has been the joke of the league for years. With terrible teams such as the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and teams with losing records in the playoffs, it's long been considered an easy road to the finals. Teams like the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks all have high seeds but no real playoff experience, so how competive will they be? Derrick Rose is back on the Bulls and new teammate Pau Gasol is a storied NBA champion, but the team hasn't played together much this year and they may not figure it out in time. This could be a cake walk for whichever team comes out of the Eastern Conference, depending on how much competition their rivals give them.
Anthony Davis is Here!
Arguably the best player in the NBA, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis led his team to the playoffs at the tender age of 22. He had a monstrous year, leading the league in blocks while averaging 24.4 ppg and 10.2 rebounds. The Pelicans aren't expected to win the series against the Golden State Warriors, but giving a bigger spotlight for the future of NBA bigmen and playoff experience doesn't hurt. If Anthony Davis can get quality minutes and experience over time, it'll help his game mature to the next level and he can use that for the rest of the 15+ years he'll be a force in the league.
Can Lebron Bring the Cleveland Cavaliers a Title?
When Lebron James penned a letter to Sports Illustrated last summer declaring he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it sent the league and fans into a frenzy. James left his hometown franchise in 2009 for the Miami Heat where he won two titles for the franchise. But in 2014, the team was blown out against the Spurs and ended the team's impressive run. James felt the Cavs had the right building blocks to work with finally and signed over the summer with his old franchise. With the additions of Kevin Love, David Blatt, Timofey Mozgov, and JR Smith, the team is finally clicking at the perfect time. Superstar teammate Kyrie Irving also gets his first taste of playoff basketball and with his ability to overtake and win games should give James some peace of mind. But expectations should be tempered. The Heat didn't win the title their first year James joined them, losing to the Dallas Mavericks. Just being back in the playoffs should be enough for Cavs fans, however, and the success will just be a bonus.