The NBA Playoffs tip off this weekend. For the past three years, the NBA Playoffs simply served as a preamble to an NBA Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. For each of those seasons, Golden State led the Western Conference in wins, landing a #1 seed in the conference playoffs. This year, the Golden State Warriors finished the season in second place behind the Houston Rockets. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference in two of those seasons but battled their way to the NBA Finals. This year, they are a #4 seed, ending the season behind Toronto (#1), Boston (#2) and Philadelphia (#3). They finished the season only two wins behind Philadelphia. In terms of seeding, the path for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make it to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appears more difficult.
The Cavaliers have made a series of trades this season to make them more competitive in the postseason. They traded six players including Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose in return for four new players, notably George Hill and Rodney Hood. Whether this Cavaliers roster has what it takes to win several rounds in the NBA Playoffs remains to be seen. For their part, the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have not made any major changes to their lineup. However, Steph Curry, two-time NBA MVP and a top scorer on the team, is suffering from a sprained MCL and has not yet returned from his injury. Without his scoring, another NBA Finals appearance is less certain especially against the high scoring-offense of the Houston Rockets, behind stars James Harden and Chris Paul.
I think most basketball fans wanted to see the rubber match last year between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. With one NBA Finals win for each team, fans wanted to see which team could win the best two out of three. LeBron James taunted Golden State quite a bit after Cleveland’s comeback victory in 2016 and Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in hopes of winning a title. His quest for that title resulted in an NBA Finals MVP trophy. These two teams may not be on a collision course this season, but the NBA Playoffs will feature exciting matchups and some great basketball. Sixteen teams will take the floor over the next few weeks, but only one can become the 2018 NBA Champion. Enjoy the games.