And have lost to teams they should not have.
No. 1 Raptors vs. With the top four seeds in each conference usually advancing, I'm not so sure if we will see upsets or more of the same. The Raptors are solid, have good chemistry and have the experience needed for a deep postseason run.
These NBA playoffs will be more global than ever.
In the off-season they added a future Hall-of-Famer in Carmelo Anthony and one of the top two-way players in Paul George. The Minnesota Timberwolves beat out the Denver Nuggets in overtime to squeeze into the last playoff spot in the West, while the Philadelphia 76ers are red hot after rattling off 16 straight wins. The 76ers have captured the hearts of many this season, rising from futility thanks to the emergence of two of the game's brightest stars - Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. However, his outside shooting is to be desired. All that happened in the regular season doesn't matter. Maybe that's a reason to back them one more time. With the confidence of beating the Sixers, the Heat would come in with a swagger and an attitude that could knock off another opponent. And this inconsistent play hasn't just sprung up recently if you look at the Bucks schedule throughout the year, there is no part of it where they get red-hot in any way.
If ALL this goes to plan, the Miami Heat could be looking at the Conference Finals. Although this was the year James might have finally been stopped, it now looks as if he will have an easy road.
The NBA playoffs are wide open. "It's different than most other team sports because an individual can really inspire, challenge, lead, make big plays, get big stops, to be able to lead a team to victory", he said. This series is too close to call, because these teams play such similar offensive styles. They'll both be better as the playoffs go on, but it just takes off so much pressure that they don't have to be great.
Golden State Warriors The reigning champs are this year's sleeping giants, as KD and company spent the final weeks of the regular season waltzing through.500 ball minus one Steph Curry. Popovich has said that Nick Kerr is the subject of additional security screenings at work, just to ensure he's not a spy for the Warriors.
Toronto captured the number one seed for the first time in franchise history this season as they also secured a franchise record number of regular season wins (59). I would hope that an at times shaky Cleveland defense and an inspiring Pacers' offense that hopefully they can get by Cleveland, so I pick the Pacers in seven games.
The pressing question will be whether the Spurs can score with the Warriors put up enough points to topple the reigning champions.
By winning on the season's final night to ensure each finished alone in third in their respective conferences, the Trail Blazers and 76ers picked up another $64,842 from the NBA's record $20 million playoff pool this season. Regular season matchups suggest the Spurs would rather play the Trailblazers as they had the better record against them. And you know the best thing about it?
Silver said that tanking - or the practice of teams intentionally losing games in an effort to improve their chances of landing a top draft pick - is an "incredibly hard issue" that the league continues to analyze. Assuming they get past Minnesota, the Rockets could be derailed in the second round by the Oklahoma City Thunder, a perplexing squad that has pretty much spent all season trying to figure out how to mesh the enormous talents of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
So, just in case the rest of the National Basketball Association happened to forget exactly how good James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela and the entire Rockets team is, I think this serves as a pretty ideal reminder. Every playoff team will receive at least $298,485 - and the payouts keep rising as teams keep advancing. And who isn't fascinated by the Sixers as the Truth the Process crew break its postseason virginity with home-court advantage versus Dwyane Wade and the Heat?