With the NBA All-Star Game wrapping up today in New Orleans, there are a lot of questions to ask for the second half of 2016-2017 NBA season.
Can The Cleveland Cavaliers repeat?
I think so. They have most of the pieces necessary minus the current injury issues to Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, who should be returning to the ring before the playoffs. They can still use another piece to their staff, a proven veteran who knows how to handle playoffs and stress.
They are having a much better February after a tough January. They are currently 7-1 for the month. Their current record and performance would tell you that they are ready to make a playoff push.
I see them definitely making the Eastern Conference Finals, with a visit to the Finals after. With that being said, I do not see the Cavs repeating again this season.
They will be winded when they battle the even better Golden State Warriors, or a San Antonio Spurs team that will be waiting for them on the other side.
Their injuries and the large minute load for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James will catch up to them. Their bench can also gain some key pieces to make it deeper than its current state that it is in. No, the Cavs will not repeat. My opinion. Deal with it.
If not them who?
The obvious choice would be the Warriors. After their stunning defeat after being up 3-1 will haunt that Warriors roster for the rest of their lives. They have since added Kevin Durant, and they blew out the Cavs after a close loss on Christmas Day.
They are still hot. They do have their occasional slip ups like a Sacramento Kings, or a Denver Nuggets team that surprises them from time to time. There are times they go on surges or runs where they look unstoppable and no team can touch them, then they lose to team that is below .500.
They are still growing and learning how to adapt with a defense that can still improve, and an offense that can still improve, as scary as that sounds. Their stars Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant are ready to take the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Oakland. The Warriors staff is is ready to make a third straight run to the Western Conference Finals.
The other teams, besides the two previous defending champs, that can take it all come June is still up in the air.
The Western Conference is stacked with talent that includes the Spurs, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Finals goes through the Western conference.
The Eastern is still in a discovery phase. The Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the surprise Washington Wizards that have been playing well and are on the heels of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.
One can never count out the San Antonio Spurs. They are going through a rebuilding phase after the departure of Tim Duncan, and the adding of Pau Gasol and Lamarcus Aldridge has them being some serious contenders for the West.
They are only a few games behind the Warriors and one of the best records in the NBA, yet nobody talks about them until its playoff time. The Spurs are okay with that.
They let their success do the talking. They should make a deep run in the playoffs. They will be tested throughout and with the ultimate test, the Warriors waiting for them in the Western Conference Finals.
If it has not been figured out yet, I am thinking the West will win the Finals. The Cavaliers could repeat, but they are looking for help. Besides them, I cannot see another team in the west that will be able to hang with the Warriors or the Spurs, could be the Celtics, but they are young with little playoff experience.
The Toronto Raptors after recently adding Serg Ibaka look like threatening. The jury is still out on them, come playoff time they struggle like you would not believe.
I expect a tougher road for all teams in the East. I see no sweeps that were abundant for the past few playoffs. The West always has tough playoff pushes with unexpected teams moving on.
On the East, for the most part the lower seeded teams will lose to the higher seeded teams. The West is a different story. The competition there is abundant. Most of the top 10 teams are from the West. There are two teams that have a losing record but are in the playoffs in the East.
There is one team one game above .500 that is in the 6th seed, compared to the only team in the West that has a losing record, and the next best team is 7 games above .500.