The Western Conference Finals and Eastern Conference Finals seem all but locked in.
Lakers v Clippers. Brooklyn v Milwaukee. That would be the case if there were no depth in the league, where this season it’s showed more than ever, that anything is possible.
It could be down to a survival of the fittest as we get towards the end of the season, with Covid still rampaging its way through the NBA, we will see which team is going to be able to handle this the best to get their team in the best position to win an NBA Championship.
Milwaukee and the Lakers face off Friday, in what could be a Championship preview, and another opportunity for Giannis to show the world he and his team are ready to take the next step and knock off a true contender on the national stage.
Boston and Philadelphia face off on Saturday (a 2nd match up in a few days), one that is huge for their division (potentially without Jayson Tatum again), Philadelphia needs to show Boston no mercy and just like Milwaukee, show us this team has defeated their demons and can also get over the hump this season.
Here is a list of teams that can knock the presumed Final 4 off their perch this season and shake up the NBA Playoffs:
Philadelphia 76ers: Is this finally the year we see this team take the next step and make the Eastern Conference Finals? We sure hope so! Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are defensive weapons, and if Ben can be a little more aggressive offensively to help out his running buddy, then they can get to that next phase of “the Process” and give themselves a chance to compete for a Championship. Staying healthy is a big thing for Philadelphia!
Miami Heat: This team almost seems forgotten about when mentioning the elite in the Eastern Conference. They made the NBA Finals last season. That kind of experience can only help this young team in the long run, and at full health, give Jimmy Butler and the boys a big shot at knocking off anyone in their way of getting back to the NBA Finals.
Indiana Pacers: Now it would be very easy to slot Boston in at this next spot, but these Indiana Pacers are incredibly deep (when healthy), and can even compete for one of the best starting units in the NBA.
Brogdon, LaVert (getting him back on the court a must), TJ Warren (ditto LaVert), Sabonis and Turner makes this team a force to be reckoned with.
Their bench compete at both ends of the court too, with the Holiday boys turning the corner this season, and getting someone like Jeremy Lamb back into the mix is huge.
If Rudy Gobert got paid 40M a year in Utah, what on earth is Myles Turner’s asking price going to be when he’s off-contract?!?
Utah Jazz: This team had a 3-1 lead on the Denver Nuggets in the First Round of the NBA Playoffs before the protests began and play was postponed.
This killed any momentum Utah had (and in the bubble that was a big thing), losing their way in 3 consecutive games to Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and the Denver Nuggets. This team hasn’t forgotten about this, and with Bojan Bogdanovic back in action, as well as Jordan Clarkson playing at a 6th man of the year level, this Utah team is primed for a big run in the playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks: They’re off to a slow start, but let’s be honest, with all the injuries they’ve had it’s amazing they’re even close to 500. When this team gets their bodies back on the court, Luka and KP will lead them to a division
title and they’ll be right back where they need to be in the playoffs.
Any team with these two superstars is every chance in the world at knocking off the two LA Teams, they just need their sidekicks on the court with them.
Denver Nuggets: Another team off to a slow start this season, but have the pieces in place to make another deep playoff run themselves.
They’re missing Jerami Grant a lot this year, who was a glue guy for that team last season (and has exploded in Detroit), so they need the likes of Michael Porter Jnr and Will Barton to pick up the slack and get this team in a position to compete with Utah for the Northwest division, and get some home-court advantage come playoff time.
We are now a month into the season and we know one thing, this league is much deeper then just the 4 teams everyone thinks will be in the Conference Finals!