If you’re a fan of the NBA and not a Golden State Warriors fan, there’s a good chance you’re rooting against the defending NBA champions this postseason. It’s about time we see the Warriors’ dynasty come to an end, but is there a team who can dethrone the Warriors?
On my way to work a few days ago, I asked my co-worker who he thought, if anyone can, has the best chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors as NBA champions. He answered by saying the Philadelphia 76ers. I politely disagreed, but realized I didn’t have a sure answer to my own question.
Who do I think has the best chance to dethrone the defending champs? We’ll get there in a minute, but first let me tell you why I don’t think it’s the 76ers. Yes, the 76ers have a starting lineup that’s perhaps the second best in the NBA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best chance at beating the Warriors.
For any team to beat the Warriors, there are two main things that team needs to do. What are those two things?
Play great defense
For the 76ers, I believe their talent matches up to what the Warriors have, but their shooting doesn’t. Ben Simmons can’t shoot, Joel Embiid can shoot, but he’s not consistent, and both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are solid shooters, but neither measure up to what the Warriors can do. I’m confident in JJ Redick as a shooter, but he’s not going to have the ball as much as Simmons, Embiid, Butler and Harris.
As far as their defense goes, the 76ers rank seventh among the 16 playoff teams in points allowed per game. Not bad, but it’s also not great either. In order to beat the Warriors, I think a team needs to have a great defense while also having a great shooting team. I believe the 76ers could win a game or two against the Warriors, but I don’t think they shoot well enough or play good enough defense.
Is there a team like that remaining in the NBA playoffs? Yes.
Who is it? The Milwaukee Bucks.
How did I come to the conclusion that the Milwaukee Bucks have the best chance to dethrone the Warriors? Numbers, of course! Let’s take a look at how the Bucks fit the qualifications of shooting well and playing great defense.
Of all the teams in the playoffs this postseason, the Milwaukee Bucks rank second in points per game, behind the Golden State Warriors. Their 117.6 points per game is the closest average to the Warriors’ 120.8 points per game.
We can’t just look at points per game. We’ll also look at field goal and three point percentage. The Bucks have a FG percentage of .476, which is second only to the Warriors’ .491 FG percentage.
Then there’s three point percentage. The Boston Celtics actually have the best percentage in the playoffs, but the Warriors are second and the Bucks are third. The Bucks have a three point percentage that’s almost identical to that of the Warriors. The Warriors have a three point percentage of .384, while the Bucks shoot a percentage of .380. The Bucks may not seem like a team who can compete with some of the best shooters in NBA history from the three point line, but their numbers say otherwise.
The Warriors play great defense, but their points per game allowed actually rank 13th among all playoff teams. Regardless of if their defense is doing well or not, the Warriors have the best offense, which means if a team is going to take them down, they must play great defense.
The Milwaukee Bucks have the fourth best points allowed per game average in the playoffs, and are third among active playoff teams. They also rank 3rd among active teams in FG% allowed. To top that off, the Bucks rank first in blocks per game in the playoffs.
According to the numbers, the Milwaukee Bucks may not have the best overall defense among playoff teams, but they’ve got a defense more than capable of locking down their opponents. They’re towards the top when it comes to defense. Combined that with the second best offense, second only to the Warriors, the Bucks have everything they need to dethrone the Warriors if they were to meet in the NBA Finals.
Which remaining NBA team is best equipped to dethrone the Warriors? Let us know what you think in the comments!