With the end of the NFL season, the NBA’s playoff push becomes center stage. This season’s, like most others’, should be exhilarating to say the least.
Out West, there appear to be more playoff teams than spots, which will create a fun race to see who can nail down a spot.
Typically, the one seed-eight seed playoff matchup is usually a bore of a playoff series, and usually ends in just four or five games. This year looks like it could be really tough for the top seed to make it out quickly.
The Oklahoma City Thunder currently holds the top seed in the West, and with the way Kevin Durant is playing right now, it is expected that they’ll hold on to it. But that eight-seed team could be, conceivably, one of six teams, depending on how the dominos fall. Phoenix, Golden State, Dallas, Memphis, Denver and Minnesota could all end up being on the other side of the court come April, and a few of those teams could run the Thunder ragged in the first round.
The Western Conference playoff race is similar to how it was in 2008, in which 48-win Golden State missed out because the competition was so fierce at the top. Any team could come out of the West. It will likely all fall on the way teams match-up.
In the East, it appears to be a boring race, with just Indiana and Miami appearing anything like a top seed. However, the teams in the middle of the pack — Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, Washington and Brooklyn — could have a big second half and look more formidable in the win column come playoff time.
Although no one can argue the West is tougher than the East overall, both will provide a lot of entertainment in April and May.
Kevin Durant is clearly in the driver seat to win the MVP award. Even if teammate Russell Westbrook comes back sooner rather than later, there probably won’t be any cooling off Durant’s play enough to let LeBron take the MVP another year.
That being said, it’s not a given Durant and the Thunder come out of the West, since just about every team has the talent to take them down on any given night. San Antonio just won’t quit, despite Ginobili and Duncan in decline. Portland is also looking very strong, as are the L.A. Clippers and Houston.
With that being said, it is sad to say that whoever makes it out of the West alive may be too beat up when they finally play either Indiana or Miami, who are the only teams who can conceivably take the East this year. Neither team will receive a big challenge until they face off in the Eastern Conference Finals, and will be quite a bit more rested than whoever comes from the West.
Let’s just all hope that the NBA Finals doesn’t end up being a sweep like the Super Bowl.