As we wind down the winter and head into spring….we come to the NBA playoffs. Who are the top teams and what teams surprised us ?
I have always been a LeBron James fan. When he decided to take his talents to the Miami Heat I knew it was a learning curve for him. I knew he needed to leave to surround himself with others who had more experience then himself , and to grow as a player. Well he sure did. He played for the Miami Heat for 4 years. In that time he won two championships then decided to return home. The big question on everyone’s mind was would he be accepted by Cleveland? Well, he came back to Cleveland with a HUGE billboard and won Cleveland its first championship in over 50 years. Cleveland CAVS won the NBA finals in 2016. Just to give you a little insight on how CLOSE the CAVS were to win in 2015 was by a very tight margin. Many speculated that the CAVS would have won in 2015 if two of their top players had not been injured; Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Kevin had a shoulder injury in 2015 right before the playoffs and Kyrie Irving was left with a shattered knee cap during the finals leaving Lebron without his two high scoring starters. LeBron was scoring in the 40s but it wasn’t enough and The Warriors took home the 2015 NBA championship. Then came the year of the CAVS in 2016. The Cleveland CAVS went into the playoffs and finals strong and healthy. Then came the Shot, the Block, and the Stop all completed by our big three Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving. The Block was LeBrons HUGE block that blocked Iguadala from scoring. Next came the incredible shot by Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is knows for those last second clutch shots and boy did he deliver that night as the he did a step back on Steph Curry and shot the ball. Then there was Kevin’s stop on Curry causing Curry to miss his shot. Suddenly, the bell rang, time was up and the Cleveland CAVS made history as the NBA 2016 Champions. It was an emotional scene as LeBron fell to the floor crying and Cleveland had a HUGE parade. I would also like to add that JR Smith made an appearance at the Cheesecake Factory shortly after in Westlake, Ohio.
Then came the 2017 Finals where the Warriors faced the CAVS again and the CAVS lost. Everyone began to see the CAVS and the Warriors as the biggest rivals that had ever been seen in the NBA. Now that we are closing in on 2018 season and coming into the playoffs and finals we are seeing a whole different CAVS team. Kyrie Irving requested a trade shocking the nation. Kyrie was traded to Boston Celtics and Cleveland received Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Ante Zizic and Broklyns Nets first round pick in return. Sounds like a crazy trade. Many speculated that Boston got the raw end of the deal (4 for one). However, Kyrie proved that it was actually the other way around. Kyrie had a spectacular year with Boston while Isaiah was out most of the season with his hip injury that happened in the 2017 playoffs and while Crowder played a decent roll, he played very inconsistently and was often benched. Zizic was also an inconsistent player leaving Lebron without another solid consistent player like Kyrie. Kevin has faced many injuries this season and the CAVS were forced to make another trade sending Isaiah, Crowder and Shumpert packing to another team. The CAVS then received George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance. The CAVS faced another adjustment they had to make with all of these new players. It was as if the entire team was rebuilt. The team continues to be plagued with injuries and in all honesty, I do not believe they are as solid as a team that they were going into the 2016-17 playoffs.
It has been a phenomenal year for the Celtics and Raptors . The Raptors hold the number one spot in the eastern conference while the Celtics are just right behind them holding the number two spot. The Cleveland CAVS fall to number 3. Boston has had their own share of injuries with Marcus Smart being out quite a while then Jalen Brown, and now Kyrie Irving who is having knee surgery and may or may not be back sometime in this years playoffs. The Raptors seemed to have been able to hold strong without any major injuries this season.
Am I little surprised that the CAVS are holding onto the third spot in the eastern conference? I am actually surprised they are doing that well. The team has been plagued with injuries all season and has seen so many new faces that they are still getting use to each other. Do I think they will be in this years finals? I think it is highly unlikely. I know the CAVS beat the Celtics a few times this year and they just won the game over the Raptors but when you look at the overall picture…..do you really think the CAVS will beat the Raptors or Boston in 4 games? I know the CAVS have LeBron but he cant do it by himself and I just do not see any of the other CAVS players taking on that strong role like Kyrie did. Let’s face it, the CAVS lost HUGE when Kyrie left.
Then we have the Western conference. The Warriors and Rockets going strong. The Warriors have faced a ton of injuries as well. The biggest injury is Steph Curry whose ankle just keeps rolling. After his ankle injury he suffered a knee injury and will be out for quite some time. He is not expected to start in the playoffs.
I think this year we are going to see something that we have not seen in the last 3 years. This year my bet is on the Raptors and the Rockets in the finals with the Rockets taking the championship. I hope the CAVS can prove me wrong. I hope I can sit back and see another downtown Cleveland parade. Until then….I am just going to sit back and enjoy LeBron’s legacy.