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This years' playoffs have been marred by injuries. Golden State's MVP is out, as are the top two players on the Clippers. Plus the Celtics, Grizzlies and Mavs were decimated by key contributors in street clothes. But enough about injuries, they're too depressing and always seem to shape the title run for playoff teams. With that said, are the favorites now San Antonio, Cleveland or even OKC?
At the start of the season I made predictions as to which teams would compete in the second season. I nailed 11 out of 16. In the East I underestimated the complete collapse of Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington. Maybe the nation's capitol should have made a coaching change. The exact opposite could be said of Chicago (the Minnesota Timberwolves would like to thank you!). In their place we saw a young Detroit team compete hard in it's first post season appearance in years—they'll continue to climb with Stan Van at the helm. Charlotte's been a nice surprise as they retooled their offense and have a solid leader in Steve Clifford. The Pacers fought back as well, it's great to see Paul George playing at a high level.
All of this leads me to believe that LeBron will once again represent the East in The Finals. In case you forgot, that would be six straight trips, which is utterly ridiculous. He might be carving out the greatest career this side of Russel and Jordan. It's not a reach to suggest that the East is better top to bottom. The lower seeds in this conference appear to be far more competitive than those out west.
In the West I missed on two teams. I thought Utah would make the ascension this year and they nearly did. It's too bad for NBA fans because the Jazz would have been way more fun to watch as the eighth seed. New Orleans also failed to continue its climb, reaching back into the lottery may be a blessing in disguise—the Brow needs help. Mad props to the Trailblazers. After losing four of their starters, Video Game Dame took control of the team and aided in the rise of CJ McCollum. Terry Stotts probably should have won coach of the year (or Clifford who I mentioned earlier). Dallas also showed resiliency. Rick Carlisle proves that coaches are worth wins.
The juggernauts of the West are obviously Golden State, San Antonio and perhaps, Oklahoma City. Assuming Curry comes back and shakes off any rust that may have formed, the Warriors should still be the favorites. If he's unable to operate at his alien levels, the winner of the Spurs Thunder matchup in round two could taint the Dubs historic season.
My love of the NBA playoffs pretty much turns me into a basketball watching vegetable though June, which I'm completely fine with. Only in the NBA.
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