Staff Writer Micah Henry
The NBA playoffs are only days away. Through numerous injuries, heart breaks, thrilling victories, and total domination, 16 teams have almost entrenched their names into the 2016 NBA playoffs. With the most prominent story line of the season being if the Golden State Warriors can break the 95-96 Bulls record of 72 wins and 10 losses, doing so by reaching 73 wins and 9 losses. As of now they are 69-8, and can only afford one more loss, to break the record, two losses and the best they can do is tie the record. However, Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, has made it clear the record is not their goal, it is to win the championship, as is every team’s goal who is entering the playoffs. As of now and most likely, here are the teams and matchups that will be competing in the 2016 NBA playoffs.
In the Eastern Conference, 1) Cleveland Cavaliers will versus the 8) Detroit Pistons and the Cavs will win to advance to the next round, winning 4-0. The Cavs are the most dominant teaM in the Eastern Conference, with Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving leading the charge, they will breeze by the Pistons. The 2) Toronto Raptors will face off against the 7) Indiana Pacers and the Raptors will advance, beating them 4-0. The Raptors, with Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan having career years, the Pacers won’t be able to keep up. The 3) Atlanta Hawks will face off against the number 6) Charlotte Hornets and the Hawks will advance, winning 4-1. The Hawks have made the playoffs in eight straight seasons and the Hornets in that time span have made it only twice, experience will and talent will brush the Hawks past the Hornets. Lastly, the 4) Boston Celtics will face off against the 5) Miami Heat and the Heat will advance to the next round, winning 4-3. The Celtics are having a great season, however a number four seed versus a number five seed could go either way. An upset here is likely as these teams match up rather equally, with Miami ranked fourth in points allowed per game, and the Celtics ranked fifth with points scored per game.
Thus, the second round will have the games set up as 1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the 5) Heat, and with the Heat most likely just sneaking past the Celtics, the Cavaliers will have another relatively easy matchup, and head to the Eastern Conference Finals. The ever present 3) Atlanta Hawks will then face a tough matchup against the 2) Raptors and the Raptors, coming off a franchise high in wins for the regular season, will push past the Hawks to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. There the 1) Cleveland Cavaliers will face a nail-bitter matchup vs. the 2) Raptors in which the Cavs will squeeze by through tactical defense and clutch playing by Lebron James, to reach the NBA Finals for just the second time in nine seasons.
For the Western Conference, a much more challenging conference in comparison to the East, the 1) Golden State Warriors will face off against the 8) Utah Jazz and will win this with ease, in a 4-0 series. The Warriors are a top two team in the NBA and are bound to reach the finals through the historic play of Steph Curry, breaking his own record for most threes scored in a season, Klay Thompson who is a huge scoring threat, and Draymond Green who is the only player in NBA history to score 1,00 points, record 500 assists and 500 rebounds, as well as 100 blocks and 100 steals, a mesmerizing feat. The 2) San Antonio Spurs will face off against the 7) Dallas Mavericks, both teams are very familiar with the playoffs, but with the Spurs having the second best record in the NBA and arguably the best defense in the NBA, along with star play Kawhi Leonard and the veteran presences of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, they will easily beat the Mavs in a 4-0 sweep. The 3) Oklahoma City Thunder will then face then 6) Portland Trail blazers and the Thunder will prevail 4-0. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will simply be too much for Damian Lillard and the blazers, and will advance to the next round. Finally, the 4) Los Angeles Clippers will face the 5) Memphis Grizzlies and the these teams being equal in skill, and the season series tied at 1-1, this will be a gritty matchup. Yet, the Clippers will be too much for the Grizzlies with the dominance of Chris Paul, Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin and will advance to the next round in an entertaining 4-2 series.
The next round will then have the 1) Golden State Warriors face the 4) Los Angeles Clippers and the Warriors will just be too talented for the Warriors and they will win a 4-1 series. Next, the 2) San Antonio Spurs and the 3) Oklahoma City Thunder will play in an amazing series. With the the number two ranked offensive of the Thunder going against the number one ranked defense of the Spurs, defense will dominate and in a seven game series, the Spurs will advance to the Western Conference Finals to play the Golden State Warriors. In the Western Conference Finals, it has the potential to be one of the most exciting conference finals in NBA history, a number one defense vs. a number one offense. There will be times the Warriors are clearly better and times the Spurs are the team to beat, but in the end, the Spurs veteran talent will outlast the Warriors in a 4-3 nail-bitter of a series to advance to the NBA Finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs and the Cavs will have a thrilling matchup, however the Spurs, will win this series with a little bit more ease than against the Warriors as the defense will be too much and the solid offense will add fuel to the fire, and the Spurs will be the 2016 NBA Champions. It won’t be easy, but it is only right for maybe Duncan, possibly others, to go out on the highest note.