For basketball fans Christmas comes in April every year, along with the NBA playoffs. Year after year, 16 of the best NBA teams clash for the ultimate title and produce amazing quality basketball in a phenomenon that keeps fans glued to the TV if they’re watching from home or cheering and living the experience to the maximum if they’re in the crowd. Anyone that’s trying to predict a winner or picture how things will go for any of the teams, has a very difficult task as the postseason is always unpredictable. A team that struggled to get the ticket to the playoffs can easily surprise everyone and deliver exceptional basketball. Or, on the other hand, big time favorites may show an incredible lack of form and keep their fans on the edge.
The Race is On for the NBA Playoffs! Who Will Win?
Which team will make it to the finals
Even so, since this is the biggest basketball competition on the planet, we can’t really prepare for it without a level of analysis, planning and expectations. So, if you want to properly get ready for the NBA finals with all the updates, a thorough analysis and predictions to help you stay ahead of the game if you’re into betting, we’ve prepared a complete article for you. Will the Warriors win their fourth consecutive championship, will the playoffs look very much differently without LeBron on the field, are the Bucks strong enough to put on a fight? Find all the answers in the rows below.
How will the Playoffs Look without LeBron?
Even though the most passionate of Lakers fans hoped for their team to reach the playoffs this year, the reconstruction process going on there is not finished and even with LeBron in the team it’s clear that things need to be further improved and tweaked for all the pistons to fire efficiently and that high-quality basketball we used to see at the Lakers to come back. And even though the rest of the world is already used to not seeing the Lakers in the playoffs, when talking about their star player - LeBron James - it is a totally different story. He got in the playoffs 13 consecutive times back when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers and even though he was pretty quiet about it in interviews, this situation has to feel awkward at least.
And even though he is an exceptional team player, LeBron must feel some level of frustration after 8 consecutive appearances in the final. But with the way things went for the Lakers this seasons, decimated by injuries that affected LeBron himself, it wasn’t much that could be done to save the situation even though they battled until the last second.
And, as much as we will miss LeBron’s spark on the field, there are still plenty of highly valuable players out there that will give everything they have for a place in that final and, of course, lifting the trophy above their heads.
Who Will Represent the Eastern Conference in the Final?
Somehow still related to LeBron, the matter of who will reach the final in the Eastern conference is also another thing to look forward to during the playoffs. With LeBron on their side, the Cleveland Cavaliers dominated the conference for many years in a row. However, without him, the Cavaliers had a very bad season and didn’t make it in the playoffs either so that leaves a big window of opportunity to one of the other teams.
Judging by their record during the season, you’d say that the Milwaukee Bucks have the first chance with a great 60 - 22 ratio, however, you can’t leave out great teams like the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers out of the equation. The Celtics were closest to playing a playoff final last year when they were defeated by the Cavaliers in the Conference finals. However, as previously mentioned, with the big guys out of the way and severely weakened by LeBron’s move towards the Lakers, anyone can take a shot at that previous spot in the final. It’s also true that the Celtics did not have a fabulous seasons either with a 49 - 33 record, however, most of the times the playoffs have nothing to do with the regular season.
New Names in the Playoffs in Both Conferences
As teams change, evolve and adapt to an ever-changing competition, it is natural to see some of the old-time favorites missing the playoffs. And, as saddening as it may be for their fans, this gives other teams a chance to shine in the postseason period and a great chance for huge players to show their potential. For the 2019 playoffs, the newcomers are more numerous in the Eastern conference than the Western. However, all the teams that managed to make an appearance after a long time out or just missing the 2018 playoffs have a good chance to show their true colors.
Perhaps the most dramatic last-minute qualifier for the playoffs comes from the Detroit Pistons. They managed to grab a 115 - 89 victory against the New York Knicks at the Madison Square Garden. It doesn’t even matter that the Pistons are heavy underdogs in the playoffs, the joy of grabbing that lost spot for a team that went through very tough times recently, was huge. Helped by a very efficient Blake Griffin, the Pistons made their way to the playoffs and now it’s all about enjoying the games that are to come and continue to make a good impression from a team that had going into the playoffs as the major objective. However, as we mentioned in the introduction of this article, it’s exactly these teams that have nothing to lose and no pressure on their shoulders that sometimes deliver outstanding results against the favorites.
Another team from the Eastern Conference to see the playoffs after some time on the bench, Brooklyn Nets got their ticket after winning in Indiana. It’s their first playoff appearance in 4 years and their fans are really excited to see what offers this excellent team can produce. Orlando Magic completes the table of teams that reached the playoffs in 2019 but were absent in recent years from the competition. Despite losing their most recent match against the Hornets, the place for the playoffs was already secured as there was no way the Hornets could catch up on either them or the Detroit Pistons.
Switching to the west, things are a bit more steady in terms of new faces in the playoffs.Just because we have less fresh names on the list, it doesn’t meant that you shouldn’t expect to see some big surprises on the field. All eyes on the Denver Nuggets as they secured a place in the playoffs long time ago with a fabulous season, ending the regular season on the second position after the Warriors. Even though we can’t really talk about the Nuggets as underdogs, even after they missed the playoffs in 2018, you should watch this team closely as they’re capable of some impressive basketball and they’ll put everything into the playoffs for a chance to push for that final.
The other team to come back to the playoffs after being absent last season, the Los Angeles Clippers secured their place for the postseason with seven regular season games left on the schedule. That being said, they had plenty of time to prepare for the first clashes in the playoffs and try to put the 2018 season behind them as soon as possible. After six consecutive appearances in the playoffs, the Clippers missed their chance to fight for the final in 2018 after a 42 - 40 record.
Who are the Favorites ?
Well, it’s no secret to anyone that the Golden State Warriors look like the most solid team this year as well. However, the 57 - 25 record for the regular season sparks a glimpse of hope in the eyes of the competition. First of all, in the Western conference play-offs, the Houston Rockets will want their shot at glory after having a great season. And looking at the seeding order for the playoffs, these two Western conference giants will have their big show-off in the Conference semifinals.
Potential Contenders in the Western Conference
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Golden State will easily knock out the LA Clippers in the first round. Likewise, Houston Rockets shouldn’t have too much trouble defeating the Utah Jazz. So, we can already predict a very hot Western conference semifinal where Golden State and Houston will clash for their place in the Conference final. Chances are that Golden State will eventually win this clash but it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. And a tough semifinal can only mean great news for the other NBA final contended in the Western conference, the Denver Nuggets. Having a way easier bracket towards the potential clash in the Conference Finals, Denver is going to use everything in their advantage. And a tiresome, long clash between Golden State and Houston is the perfect opportunity for the Nuggets.
East vs West
Assuming that no other team in the Western Conference will be able to stand up to Golden State and they will trash everything on their way to the NBA finals, it’s then up to the Eastern conference champions to take on the role of David and try to defeat Goliath. The likely suspect for this gruesome job seem to be the Milwaukee Bucks. If we are to have this lineup for the finals, it’s for sure that we are going to see some very intense basketball.
Even though the Bucks will most likely have an easier path towards the finals, enjoying an excellent seed, they are still considered to be the underdogs in this clash. First off, they will face Detroit Pistons in the first round so that should be smooth sailing towards the semifinals. Here, they could either face the Celtics or the Pacers since there’s going to be a tight clash in the other first round on the left bracket of the Eastern conference. If we take a short look on the right brackets, we have a huge clash between the Toronto Raptors and the Orlando Magic. Even so, the Raptors are the only ones that could potentially step in the way of the Bucks reaching the NBA finals. And that’s not really a serious consideration judging by how the Bucks played the entire season.
Bucks vs Golden State
8 out of 10 people you ask are going to reply that this is most probably how the NBA finals lineup will look like for 2019. And despite what is predicted to be an easier course towards that place in the final for the Bucks, the big favorites of the competition remain Golden State. If you’re into betting, a quick look at the odds at 1xBet for each team will paint a very clear picture. Golden State Warriors are quoted with a 1.4 odd for another NBA final title while their main competitors, the Milwaukee Bucks have a huge odd of 9 for the same feat.
By strictly looking at the odds, without watching one single NBA game the entire season, this looks like a typical favorite vs underdog fight where only a miracle can change what seems to be a pre-decided outcome. However, basketball is such a thrilling game to watch especially for its capacity of producing huge surprises and very controversial outcomes. So, you shouldn’t exclude any of the possibilities just yet in what will be a very exciting competition.
Is There Anything to Predict a Huge Surprise in the Playoffs
After the analysis provided above and judging by the very different odds each of the most likely finalists have, it looks like a pretty sure thing for the Warriors. However, is there something that could ruin their celebration of what would be their fourth consecutive win in the NBA playoffs?
We’ve seen it happening at all the major clubs in all sports, not just basketball. No matter how valuable your players are, no matter how good they are coached and how much money the team spends on professional psychologists to keep the team motivated. When you’re constantly winning everything there is to be won, there’s an unconscious phenomenon going on that makes players not give 100% all the time. Sporting professionals often call it the ‘ hunger of winning’ and that’s where all those unlikely 3-pointers, incredible sprints or unbelievable rebounds come from. Of course, after watching the Warriors destroy the Cavaliers in the last finals, even with LeBron on the field, it’s hard to believe they’re experiencing any lack of motivation. However, this is something the managers and the entire staff needs to be aware of and do everything in their power to prevent.
An Aging Squad
There’s no one out there that can deny the Warriors had the perfect squad for so many years in a row, with everything going smoothly and all the players looking like perfect cogs in a very efficient machinery. However, even though we are talking about top athletes here that train for insane amount of hours daily and do everything possible to maintain their shape and improve, aging is not a process that can be reversed. Durant is 29, Thompson 28 and there are also a couple of players that already gone over the 30-years mark. You’ll probably say that LeBron is 34 and he’s still one of the best on the field nowadays. However, players like LeBron usually surface once in a generation and there’s a huge reason why he’s considered to be the GOAT. Again, top basketball players can keep doing it until they’re 37 if we are to look back to the history of this sport. However, after a certain age it’s really a matter of “if” while having good players in your squad aged 22 - 25 you are sure you can count on them for the long haul.
Rumors Surrounding Kevin Durant and Thompson
There’s a very interesting situation going on with Kevin Durant, arguably the best player right now in the Warriors’ squad. Even though he has won two championships already and he is looking at the third to come, he seems unhappy and there were several rumors about him making a move. His free agency state makes that very likely to happen and that could also have a negative impact on his teammates. At such a high level where the pressure is enormous, there’s enough for one little crack to see everything blow into pieces.
The Warriors Have a Short Bench
There’s no denying that the Warriors are displaying the most talented five-man unit in the NBA in the league right now. However, when you’re playing at such an incredibly high level, you can’t be part of every second of the fights. There’s a lot of strategy going into every match in the playoffs and, as brilliant as their first team is, the Warriors have a pretty bad bench. It has been displayed in the match against Thunder and many others through the season when the team always went under water whenever Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry weren’t on the field. If the A-team can decide everything in the first quarters then there’s no threat to them being able to take the trophy home, however, things are going to be tricky if the Warriors aren’t in control and top players like Durrant have to be rested. And while it’s obvious that there won’t be any new additions to the team with the playoffs just around the corner, the Warriors will need to hold on.
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