With nine games left in their regular season the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Now the Cavaliers trail the Boston Celtics by just a 1/2 game for the #1 seed, but when was the last time a team with LeBron James hasn’t controlled the top spot. After winning last seasons championship and making the trip to the finals in 2015; the Cavaliers have played a lot of basketball. Also don’t forget that this is LeBron James’ 6th straight trip to the NBA finals. There are a lot of questions surrounding this Cleveland team and you have to wonder if this is the year that they don’t get out of the Eastern Conference and make the NBA Finals. Now even with all of the complaining he does you have to figure that James will find an extra gear and get the Cavaliers into the finals again, but you never know. Who could be the Cavaliers toughest challenger.
Right now the Cavaliers would get a 1st round match up against the Indiana Pacers. It would be difficult to see Indiana or any of the bottom tier teams who will make the Eastern Conference playoffs beating the Cavaliers in a 7 game series. Now if the Cavaliers are the #2 seed they could draw a very tough match up against the Washington Wizards in the 2nd round. Now even though the Celtics are the team with the better record I believe that the Wizards are the team that could be able to knock the Cavaliers off. Washington has one of the best back courts in the NBA with John Wall at point guard and Bradley Beal as the shooting guard. They have a couple of solid bug men in Center Marcin Gortat and Forward Markieff Morris. The Wizards other starter is Otto Porter Jr. who is currently the 3rd best 3-point shooter in the NBA; percentage wise. Now Wall can be that classic get to the basket type of point guard and it seems as though the Cavaliers haven’t found a rim protector to stop a driving point guard. Are the Wizards built to beat the Cavaliers and possible represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
So say the Cavaliers get into the Eastern Conference finals where they meet the Boston Celtics. Could the Celtics be the team to knock the Cavaliers out of the playoffs? The biggest thing I’ve heard the expert say about the Celtics is they can’t win because their best player is their point guard Isaiah Thomas. Now Thomas is clearly the Celtics best player and averages 13 more points per game then any of player on the team, but there are some solid pieces around Thomas. The NBA has shifted away from dominant big men, but Al Horford is still a solid NBA player and has added a 3-point shot to his game. Horford makes 35.5% from behind the 3-point line. Now a healthy Avery Bradley would be a big, big plus for the Celtics not only against the Cavaliers, but for the entire playoffs. Bradley has played in just 49 games for the Celtics this season. Bradley did play 31 minutes on Sunday in the Celtics 112-108 win over the Miami Heat. The Celtics face the Milwaukee Bucks tonight, so we’ll have to see if or how many minutes Bradley plays tonight. Could you see the Celtics beating the Cavaliers ion a playoff series?
Now over in the Western Conference it appears to be a three team race to the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors have the #1 seed with the San Antonio Spurs 2 1/2 games behind them in the standings; then there’s the Houston Rockets in 3rd nine games behind the Warriors. Golden State would get the Portland Trailblazers in the 1st round. San Antonio would face the Memphis Grizzlies in the 1st round while Houston would draw the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 1st round. Do you have an upset in one of these three possible opening round playoff series? If all three teams where to advance the Warriors would gat the Jazz or the Clippers in the 2nd round while the Spurs and the Rockets would face off against each other in the 2nd round. So who would be the better match up for Golden State in the Western Conference finals; the Spurs or the Rockets? It’s a tough call to make, but do you have either the Spurs or the Rockets getting past the Warriors in a Western Conference finals match up. The Warriors have also been to back to back NBA Finals; so they’ve played a lot of basketball. Remember though the Warriors are expecting Kevin Durant to return from his injury for the playoffs. Will Durant be the spark Golden State needs to return to a 3rd consecutive NBA Finals.
I have a feeling that the NBA wants to see Golden State against Cleveland for the third year in a row. Now I’m not going to say it, but I think we all know that the NBA has a way of getting the teams they want in the finals.
The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 last night in the NHL. Now most people might look at this and think it’s just another NHL game and maybe it was, but with this loss the Red Wings where eliminated from the playoffs with this loss. This will be the first time since the 1989-90 season that the Red Wings won’t be taking part in the NHL playoffs; ending a 25 year run. The 25 season streak had been the longest active playoff streak in sports. Now that the Red Wings streak is over the San Antonio Spurs have the longest active playoff streak at seasons. The Boston Bruins hold the record for most consecutive seasons of making the playoffs at 29. The Bruins made the playoffs from 1967 to 1996. The Chicago Blackhawks had a streak of 28 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs from 1969 to 1997. The Red Wings streak of making the playoffs 25 seasons in a row in tied for 3rd best with the St Louis Blues. The Blues made the playoffs from 1979 to 2004. Will have to see if this is just a one year absence from the playoffs for the Red Wings or if will take them some time to return.
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