They’re playing basketball….
The battles on the hard court have returned as the NBA season is prime to kickoff this Tuesday and will not stop until next summer. But who is going to win it all? Will the Cavs win another championship for Believe-Land? Or will the newly revamped Warriors win a title alongside Kevin Durant? Who will be our surprise teams this year and who will win the MVP trophy this year? Here are my official predictions.
Here are the teams I predict will make the playoffs( in no order):
Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks
Why: If I’m looking at the east this year, the Central division will decide who goes to the Finals this year. Short of Milwaukee, who will push for a playoff spot, I have every team in the Central making the playoffs. Chicago has gotten better with the addition of Dwayne Wade, Indiana finally has good guard play with Jeff Teague coming from Atlanta, and the Pistons will be more dangerous with some playoff experience. The Knicks will also make it due to them building a super team, but if I’m being honest, they more than likely will be an 8 seed, while the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors will battle for first in the Atlantic. Finally, the Hawks will more than likely be a 7th seed as they are in the weakest division and it wouldn’t surprise me if Charlotte finds a way to sneak by and win their division.
But here is who will win it all:
East Conference Champion: Cleveland Cavaliers
Why: Because while other teams in the East have gotten somewhat better, Cleveland is still that much better. They still have LeBron, still have Kyrie, and while they lost Matthew Dellavedova and Timothy Mozgov, they got stronger by getting rookie Kay Felder, veterans Mike Dunleavy and Chris Andersen. Not only will they be the best team in the east but they no longer have the monkey on their back of not winning a title, which will allow them to play more freely. I also look at coaching being a plus because head coach Tyron Lue will now have a full offseason to make this team even better on offense. This team will have no problem winning the East.
Why: Now while it wont be a surprise that the Pistons (who as a Detroiter I refuse to call them the Detroit Pistons because they don’t play in the city) make the playoffs, I think it will be a surprise as to how well they will play in the playoffs. I think this team, depending on how well they play in the regular season, could be an Eastern semi or conference finalist. They have it all: two guards that can make big assists and play defense, a big man who can out-rebound just about everyone and a head coach that is top-tier of this conference. Keep a look out for the Pistons they could make some serious moves in the East.
Now lets look at the West.
Here are the teams I predict will make the playoffs( in no order):
Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves
Why: Well let’s be honest, most of these teams made it last year and nothing from this off-season shows me they wont make it this year. Now the one team I don’t have in there is the Dallas Mavericks and that’s because I believe the Timberwolves, yes the Minnesota Timberwolves will make the playoffs. Just looking at this team, they have a damn good roster along with a new coach, but I’ll get to that in a minute. But honestly, this conference comes down to three teams: the Spurs, the Warriors and the Thunder. These three teams are going to play round robin to decide who wins the conference but at the end of the day, my conference winner is
Why: Unfortunately, the answer is simple: Kevin Durant. The Warriors have loaded the starting lineup and are going to be pretty damn tough to beat in the West. But don’t think they will easily get this conference championship. While this team has great players, they also need to learn how to gel together especially against tough teams like the Thunder and the Spurs. Between the shooting gallery that is Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, this team will more than likely be number one in shooting percentage overall, from the 3 point line and from the free throw line.
Western Conference Surprise Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
Why: This team, in my humble opinion, is the biggest dark horse in the entire league. They have two big future All-Stars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. They also have great guard play in Shabazz Muhammad, Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn, meaning you have a great assisting guards and guards that can put up points. Finally, you bring in former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau who doesn’t get enough credit in the development of players such as Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler. I’m looking at Minnesota to not only make the playoffs, but to push the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland TrailBlazers for the Northwestern divisional crown.
Now that we know who I have as my conference champions and surprise teams, who will win the MVP? Here is my prediction:
League MVP: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Why: While I don’t have the Thunder winning the Western Conference, this man will be a force to reckon with. While he wont have Kevin Durant as a running mate, what makes him a runaway favorite to win the MVP is because he doesn’t have Kevin Durant as a running mate. This team is now his team and because they don’t have to cater to Durant’s style of play, Westbrook will have his team in attack mode and be a monster statistically on all fronts. Expect his points, rebounds, assists, and steals to go up. On top of that, think of this: he was an absolute assassin WITH Kevin Durant by his side. Now that he doesn’t have him, can you imagine how dangerous he will be now? I expect him to be the MVP before the All-Star game is played.
Now we’ve reached the prediction you’ve all been waiting for: the NBA Finals winner
Why: Now if you have read my editorial on Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State, you can imagine why I think this move will end up helping Cleveland. Without roster changes and a major upset, Cleveland knows exactly who they are playing in the Finals. Now while Cleveland and Golden State can cancel each other out with their benches, starters, and coaching, there is one huge X-factor that I believe will win Cleveland their second championship:
Yes Kevin Love. The guy who is essentially labeled as the Chris Bosh of Cleveland. Now while both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James can cancel out Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Tristan Thompson will be out-boxing Draymond Green in the paint, Love is going to be the deciding factor in this series. I believe that while last year’s playoffs for the Cavs were about getting Kyrie Irving back his legs, this year’s playoffs will about getting Love back to his Minnesota form and what made him dangerous as a T’Wolf. If Love is back at that form, even half of it, along with a rested LeBron and balling Kyrie, the Cavs will win this series in six, maybe even five if the Warriors get frozen from the perimeter.
Well those are my predictions, what do you think? Who will win the East and West? Who will be the surprise teams and who wins the MVP? Leave your comments and thoughts down below.