The NBA Playoff Match-ups We All Want To See

With the NBA playoffs around the corner, I discuss five series we all want to see

Clippers – Warriors

In the 2014 NBA playoffs, the Clippers defeated the Warriors in a riveting seven-game series in the first round. It’s funny when you read that out loud considering the Warriors’ absolute dominance over the Clippers since then. The Warriors have won ten consecutive games against their instate rivals, and most of these games haven’t even been close. On Jan. 28, the Warriors destroyed the Clippers 144 to 98. They won by FORTY SIX! That simply isn’t fair. The Clippers have been nothing but disappointing in the playoffs with this current core, they haven’t been able to get out of the second round, and their best players always seem to get hurt around the playoffs. With all this said, these two teams simply don’t like each other. Despite the ten-game losing streak, the Clippers still believe they can knock off the Warriors. Nothing this season or in the recent history of this rivalry would indicate that Los Angeles would even have a shot at beating Golden State but in the playoffs you never know. One thing is for sure, this is a series we all want to see.

Cavs – Wizards

            On Feb. 6, the Wizards and the Cavs played in arguably the best game of the season, maybe one of the best regular season games ever. A 140 to 135 overtime victory by the Cavs in a game that had it all. Bradley Beal (41 points) and Kevin Love (39 points) each hit six three pointers. Lebron James also hit six threes, including a bank shot three with .3 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Lebron added 17 assists, tying his career high. Kyrie Irving added 23 for the Cavs including 11 in overtime as Lebron fouled out. This epic game served as a potential preview to what could be an exciting Eastern Conference Finals. We’ve been waiting for years for John Wall to carry a team deep in the playoffs and this may be his best chance.

Heat – Cavs

            Miami started the season 11-30, and at that point it would have been more likely that the Heat would’ve landed the top pick in June’s draft than that they would’ve made a strong playoff push, but that’s the case today. With the eight seed in their sights, a first round match-up with the Cavs is a very real possibility. Strictly from a basketball standpoint, this series wouldn’t offer much, but it would provide fans with a bounty of emotions and story lines. If the Heat are able to make the playoffs, it would be the start of a new era. Reaching the postseason in the first year after Wade’s departure would be a major accomplishment, and playing Lebron’s Cavs would be the perfect match-up. Realistically, Miami wouldn’t have much of a chance, despite back to back wins against the Cavs in early March. Simply put, the Cavs are a better team with better players. A reunion with Lebron in the playoffs would allow the Heat to turn the corner and begin a new chapter in their history.

Bucks – Cavs

            At age 32, and in his fourteenth season in the league, Lebron James shows no signs of slowing down. Whenever it is that Lebron does begin to decline, we have the next game changing high, flying dominant wing waiting to take over. Giannis Antetokounmpo (whose name I copy and paste every time I write it) is already a superstar. As I write this, Milwaukee sits a game and a half out of the eighth spot, but the Bucks have won two games in a row and six of their last ten, in addition, more than half of their remaining 21 games come against teams with a below .500 record. Assuming the Bucks can sneak into the playoffs, they probably wouldn’t put up much of a fight against the Cavs. The ONLY reason we’d want to see this series play out is to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo face off against Lebron for at least four games. Hopefully, the young Bucks become a consistent playoff team, and a hypothetical first round matchup between these two teams becomes an annual series fans can enjoy.

Spurs – Rockets

            Apart from the fact that both teams possess top five records in the league this year, and that each team has an MVP caliber player on their team, there isn’t much to this potential series. This will probably be the best non finals match-up we’ll have all postseason. The Spurs boast the league’s most efficient defense, while the Rockets hold the league’s second best offense. But, when discussing these two teams, I would be committing a federal crime if I didn’t focus on Kawhi Leonard and James Harden. Kawhi Leonard is without a doubt the best defensive player in the game, and quite possibly the best two-way player too. He averages over two steals per game, and nearly a full block, but the numbers don’t do him justice. With nearly ten-inch hands, and a 7’3” wingspan, Leonard traumatizes offensive players. He’s quick, athletic, capable and most of all tenacious. He embraces the challenge of shutting down the opposing team’s best player on any given night. If these teams meet in the playoffs, that would mean a match-up with James Harden. Harden is an offensive wizard, a Steve Nash on steroids, averaging 29 points, 11 assists and eight boards, he’s the main reason for the Rockets’ turnaround this season. It’s easy to forget that Harden switched positions to point guard in the off-season, as his transition has been flawless. If there’s a player that could provide Leonard with problems, it’s Harden, especially in this Mike D’Antoni offense that plays to his strengths, three-point shooting and attacking the basket. It’s safe to say, the ensuing second round match-up between these two will be nothing short of epic, and hopefully very long.

Realistically speaking, we’ll probably get three if not four of these matchups, but regardless, the 2017 playoffs will be one to remember.

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