Last time we spoke we were amid the most pivotal month if the season. Now we are after the entire NBA season, and the playoff teams have finally set.
Let’s take a quick review of the most critical moves or news that happened in the last month of the season — news like historical records, injuries, and current fan favorites missing playoffs. There has been a lot of different things that happened over the past month of the season that is very important to playoffs.
But first I want you to join in on the debate of who is the rookie of the year? Will it be Atlanta Hawks’ guard Trae Young or Dallas Mavericks’ forward Lukas Doncic?
What about the other awards? MVP – Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden? Coach of the year – Mike Malone or Mike Budholzer? Is D’Angelo Russell the favorite to win the most improved player award? And who do you pick as the sixth man of the year? Has Paul George done enough to earn defensive player of the year?
How about the LeBron James and the Lakers missing out on the playoffs again? It’s LeBron James’ first time since the 2004-05 season. That broke the streak of eight straight NBA finals from a LeBron James led team, and now they turn their attention to the draft and free agency.
Speaking of the Lakers, President of Basketball Operations and Hall of Fame Laker, Magic Johnson has stepped down. Now that’s an exciting thing to add to the Lakers offseason. Former Lakers big man, Shaquille O’Neal suggest the Lakers bring back former general manager Jerry West and maybe try out Kobe? How will this affect them this summer?
But what about some of the most memorable moments of the season? The last seasons’ games of Dirk Nowitzki and Dwayne Wade’s professional careers. You can look at their farewell tributes here. I will also have two separate articles thanking both of them for all they have given. Both Dirk and Wade scored 30 points in the final home game of their careers with wins! In the final game of the season, Dirk scored 20 points and Wade got his fifth career triple-double in front of the Brooklyn fans and his boys! Wade had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The tenth assist came off a jump shot by 16-year Heat player and Wade’s teammate/friend Udonis Haslem!
What about everything that has gone wrong in New Orleans with Anthony Davis and the Pelicans? Don’t forget about the historic 30 + point run that Houston Rockets James Harden had earlier in the season. Or maybe it’s Russell Westbrook’s 20,20,20 game in a win over the Lakers that he said he did for Nipsey. Westbrook also becomes the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double for the third straight season.
Okay, let me be honest for a minute here, Russell Westbrook is the best point guard ever to play the game. Just cause he doesn’t have the attitude and rings everybody expects from a superstar like Curry doesn’t mean that Curry is better. I mean yes, Curry is a better shooter than Russ for sure, but Brodie got game, and he continues to grow and build the chemistry with Steven Adams and Paul George.
And with the playoffs tipping off on Saturday, we will have a round by round playoff prediction as we try to compare who was closest to getting it right when we first started the season. You can see our preseason predictions here. I’m still taking OKC!
But let’s take a look at the standings and see what may or may not hurt each team in the playoffs.
1. Bucks (60-22) 1. Warriors(57-25)
2. Raptors (58-24) 2. Nuggets (54-28)
3. 76ers (51-31) 3. Blazers (53-29)
4. Celtics (49-33) 4. Rockets (53-29)
5. Pacers (48-34) 5. Jazz (50-32)
6. Nets (42-40) 6. Thunder (49-33)
7. Magic (42-40) 7. Spurs (48-34)
8. Pistons (41-41) 8. Clippers (48-34)
After looking at where each team stands heading into the playoffs, we will now turn our attention to the teams with something lost.
Each of these teams has something or someone to lose if they haven’t already, and we will get into each one.
First, the defending champions Golden State Warriors. They could lose the chance at becoming the first team since Shaq and Kobe’s 2000-02 Lakers to get a three-peat. They could also lose important players like Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson.
Milwaukee has already lost key players like Malcolm Brogdon and Pau Gasol with a hopeful return at some point in the playoffs. Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell are also hoping to be ready as they all sat in Wednesday nights finale. Don’t forget that Eric Bledsoe will be an unrestricted free agent as well.
The Raptors and Celtics likely have one chance to get the title in the playoffs as they could both lose their All-Stars, Kawhi Leonard (TOR) and Kyrie Irving (BOS). Both Leonard and Irving will both be free agents this summer. You can also add the Sixers’ Jimmy Butler and Nets’ D’Angelo Russell to the free agency list and loses that could hurt their team next season.
Let’s pay close attention to the playoffs and see how far each of these guys can take their teams and don’t forget to tune into the NBA playoffs on Saturday and see if there’s anyone that can take down the Warriors. Also, continue to wait for our predictions on the playoffs and where each team will take themselves. If you want to talk about why I think Russell Westbrook is better than Steph Curry and many more point guards, at me on twitter @rahimm8690 and let’s continue this conversation.