What to expect from the upcoming NBA playoffs

by Hashir Imran (Staff Writer) – 4/28/15

A previous NBA Finals trophy
A previous NBA Finals trophy

As late April and early May approaches, the NBA playoffs are taking place, as 16 teams who have qualified for the post season will battle it out for a shot to win the league title. The teams hope their long and grueling season has prepared them for such an intense competition, and they hope they will finish the season as the team reigning supreme. In a seven game series, the first team to win four games continues to the next round. In each conference the best of the best make the playoffs. Highly known and skillful teams like the Spurs, Cavaliers, and Warriors make the cut. Most years obvious teams make it, but it’s quite the opposite this year. Teams people thought wouldn’t make it did, and teams people thought would make it didn’t.

The NBA’s eastern conference had many surprises. The Atlanta Hawks powerfully ended their season with the best record in the eastern conference. The Hawks don’t offer any superstar players, but NBA analysts say that this team gels together perfectly and their chemistry is always on point. After going on a 19-game win streak midseason, the Hawks haven’t just shocked their fans, they shocked the NBA world.

The Milwaukee Bucks have entered the playoffs after a previous season with only 15 wins. This amateur team with not many veterans is led by NBA great Jason Kidd at the head coaching position, and by making the playoffs this year, they have drastically improved. Even the Boston Celtics have entered the playoffs after a 25 win season last year.

The Boston Celtics don’t have the best roster in the league. Nor did they have the best chance of making the playoffs, but with many shockers in the eastern conference, the Celtics slid in. This team has hugely improved after giving up franchise players like Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett.

Teams that truly should have made the playoffs in the eastern conference did not. The Miami Heat will miss out on playoff action after going to the NBA finals four years straight in the previous four seasons. This is a true shocker because this team has many talented players such as Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Chris Bosh. Three of these four have been to the finals numerous times.

The Indiana Pacers are also not in this year’s playoffs. After having the best record in the east last year, they lost superstar player Paul George due to injury, traded Lance Stephenson, and center Roy Hibbert did not perform well. Not making the playoffs is something new and is something this team and the NBA world isn’t used to. These two teams should have been in this year’s playoffs, but luck wasn’t on their side.

In the western conference there weren’t as many upsets, but it was interesting to see how things played out. This year the Golden State Warriors ended a great season with the best record in the western conference; they finished in sixth place last year. They have truly made a statement. They improved their season with 16 more wins than last year by being led by MVP caliber player Stephen Curry and sharpshooter Klay Thompson.

The New Orleans Pelicans shockingly have entered this year’s post-season. After ending last year’s season with a record not even close to playoff contention, they have made the eighth seed and have entered the playoffs. They feature superstar player Anthony Davis, who is compared to greats like Hakeem Olajuwon and Wilt Chamberlain, at only the age of 22. This young player hopes to lead his team far into the playoffs even though the odds are stacked against them.

The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t make the playoffs. Despite having this year’s scoring leader Russell Westbrook, a player who has been in this year’s MVP conversation, the Thunder will sit home rather than showcase their talents on the court. Westbrook had a tremendous season, breaking Michael Jordan’s record of most triple doubles in a season with 11 of his own. The absence of former MVP Kevin Durant has been a loss for the team, and a great season for Russell Westbrook has ended the way he never imagined.

The first round of the NBA playoffs will be very interesting on both conferences. On the west side the match ups are Pelicans vs Warriors, Mavericks vs Rockets, Spurs vs Clippers, and Trailblazers vs Grizzlies. All these matchups will be ones to keep a close eye on. Every team has a superstar player or is filled up with superstar players, players like Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, etc.

On the east side the match ups will be fun, but seem to be more one sided. Nets vs Hawks, Celtics vs Cavaliers, Bucks vs Bulls, and Wizards vs Raptors. NBA fans believe that all of these games will be ones to watch, but the most interesting will be the Wizards vs Raptors; both teams contain many skillful players. Players like Demar Derozan and John Wall are players that fill up the stat sheet and hope to lead their teams to victory.

This year’s NBA playoffs will be fascinating as far as both conferences go. There are powerhouse teams involved on the west side and many surprises on the east side. Teams like the Spurs and Warriors will fully showcase their talent in this tournament, but teams like the Hawks and Celtics will be compelling to watch and to see what they accomplish.