by Jackson Hongtong ’21
The NBA regular season is winding down, and playoff-time is right around the corner. This time around, however, the playoffs have a different feel. For the first time in 13 years, Lebron James will miss the playoffs, which shows the strength of the Western conference, and the possibility of James’ decline. This year’s playoffs can be a entertaining, and can answer a lot of questions for the curious NBA fans of the world. Will the Golden State Warriors be beaten in a seven game series? Will the playoff run by James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo determine who deserves the MVP? And who will come out of the Eastern conference? With all these questions and exciting things to come, here are five reasons why you should watch the playoffs this year.
- Can the Warriors be taken down? Probably not, but there is always a chance. The reigning champs have won three out of the last four NBA championships. With the addition of one of the best centers in the league in Demarcus Cousins along with two top-five players in the league with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, it should be near impossible to beat them. However, the Denver Nuggets are only a game behind the Warriors for being a one seed, and the Eastern conference has improved as well. The Houston Rockets almost defeated the Warriors last year, so maybe they can pull it off with a healthy Chris Paul.
- Who will win the MVP race? The two leading candidates for MVP is clear between James Harden of the Rockets, and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo is having an amazing year, averaging more than 27 points per game and having led his Bucks to the best record in the NBA. Reigning MVP James Harden has his team at the current three seed, but is averaging more than 36 points per game along with a 32-game streak of scoring 30 plus points a night. Many believe that how far either player goes in the playoff will determine who the MVP is, so we can sit back and watch these stars go back and forth to see who will win the race.
- Who will come out of the East? Ever since the beginning of the season, the team to advance to the finals from the East has been a subject of speculation. With Lebron now in the West, the East was up for grabs. The Raptors, Bucks, 76ers, and Celtics are all competitive teams that have a chance at outlasting the rest. One of these teams will probably have to face the Warriors, so everyone has their own opinion on who would be the best match. I think matching up the 76ers or Celtics would be the best match because these teams have players that can match up well with Golden State.
- Will the playoffs determine free agency? There is a lot of speculation that star players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving will leave their team and move in the offseason. The playoff performance of their respective teams can make a big impact on the players’ decisions to stay or leave. If a team makes a long run and shows promise in the postseason, some players could stay and try to build a dynasty like the Warriors. However, a first-round upset or disappointing loss in the later rounds could shift the mindset of these superstars and maybe provide them a reason to look for other team in free agency.
- Of course, who will win it all? The NBA championship is the most prestigious prize in basketball. With a lot of talent in the playoffs, it should be an exciting show all around. There will be standout performances, game-winning shots, and historical moments. The Warriors should win the championship and complete the three-peat. There are not many teams in my opinion that could win, but maybe the overload of the stars on the Warriors could be the end of their dynasty, but we will just have to wait and see. The first round of the playoffs starts on April 13, and it should end around June 17.