The NBA season is winding down and the playoffs are about to begin. From a disappointing season performance by the Knicks, to a surprising self-destruction of the once-favored Pacers, the playoffs are looking to be exciting as always. The Miami Heat are far and beyond the best team in the eastern conference. With Lebron James playing the best of his career and Dwayne Wade coming back from injury, the Heat are looking like the odds on favorite to make it to the NBA Finals. The west is an entirely different story.
In the western conference, the first and second seeds are held by the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Tim Duncan and the Spurs survived a knee injury scare prior to the playoffs and it looks like the team will be in full fighting condition come round one. The Thunder has been a tale of two Oklahoma Cities, one operated by Westbrook and the take over version that is run by Durant. While most say their conflicting playing styles can hinder their performance as they progress into the playoffs, it should be noted that the Thunder were met by an early round exit after Westbrook was out indefinitely due to injury last season. The year before was when Oklahoma City came out of the West for the NBA finals. Can they do it again this year with a healthy Westbrook?
The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets are the leagues most fast paced teams. With LA players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin using playground tactics, the stylish teams are not only fun to watch but successful as well. The Rockets and big off-season acquisition Dwight Howard has surprised many critics by how well the team plays together. With the decision to start Patrick Beverley over Jeremy Lin earlier in the season, the Rockets have since been one of the teams to be reckoned with in the west. James Harden has had flashes of pure brilliance during the season and if he can remain consistent, the Rockets can advance far into the playoffs and beyond.
As the season is winding down and the playoffs are set to begin, NBA top seeds are about to prepare for potential spoilers from hungry young teams. The Portland Trailblazers along with the Golden State Warriors can easily upset one of the top seeded teams if they are not careful. Damien Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have brought Rip City back to life with not only their hard press defense, but insane scoring bursts that no other team can rival. The Warriors’ Stephen Curry is a future NBA superstar if he isn’t one already. His cut throat intensity and can not miss jump shots has many left many guarding him posterized. Klay Thompson has been a pleasant surprise for the team, averaging 18.4 points per game.
While anything can happen in the NBA, the East can be sure about the Miami Heat coming out and making it to the Finals for a history four times in a row. The west might be a different picture, but it will be an entertaining two months leading to the championship. With the NBA playoffs about to begin, the west is expected to be unpredictable as it is enjoyable.
Commentary by Hector Carrion