After 8 painful months of regular season basketball, we are finally here — the NBA playoffs; the most exciting 3 months of the year for basketball fans. The league’s 16 teams are each on their respective journeys to take home the NBA title, fighting against rivals to their very last breaths. Yet only one will rise as a champion, only the best of the best. That being said, to celebrate this time of the year, let’s make some bold predictions for these 2018 NBA Playoffs.
#3 The Toronto Raptors will advance to the Eastern Conference or even NBA Finals
Although the NBA’s Eastern conference is still ruled by Lebron James, the Toronto Raptors displayed a commanding rule of the conference during the regular season. Lead by superstars Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors have shown very few weaknesses throughout the year, and may even prevent Lebron from returning to the NBA Finals.
However, the young, less experienced Raptors team has had several struggles in the past, mainly due to the inconsistency of role players Jonas Valanciunas and others. But this year, their impressive general management has brought in other young players like Fred Vanvleet and OG Anunoby to fill the gap of these other struggling players, and it’s been working; the Raptors have posted a 9-6 record against their largest competitors in the Eastern Conference.
#2 John Wall and the Washington Wizards will make the Eastern Conference Finals
Going into 2018, stars John Wall and Bradley Beal were supposed to progress into a formidable duo in the Washington Wizards’ backcourt. However, very few fans expected them to become one of the most talented and connected two players in the NBA. I believe that their contribution alone will be enough to get past the always-struggling Toronto Raptors and eventually into the Eastern Conference Finals. Even if this duo fails to execute, the Wizards still have talented Polish big man Marcin Gortat and young star Otto Porter, who carried the team in February when John Wall went down with an injury, leading the team to a 6-1 record that month. Also, the team has finally filled their usually-depleted bench. By adding Jodie Meeks and Tim Frazier at the guard spots, Washington will finally get the playmaking boost they need and will go deep into the playoffs. You heard it here first!
#1 The Houston Rockets will finally dethrone the Warriors
Topping the NBA with a 65-17 record, this is the year for the Rockets to finally advance past the Golden State Warriors into the NBA finals. Now that the team has finally adjusted to new coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive barrage oriented style of play, the Rockets have been the best team in the league this entire year, and will never fail to receive MVP caliber play from both James Harden and Chris Paul. Also, their reserves are all in their prime and fine-tuned to complement Harden and Paul, only adding to the team’s ability to both score and defend.
This, paired with the fact that Houston will have home-court advantage the entire playoffs, is a perfect enough reason to have the Rockets winning this year’s Eastern Conference and then easily pummeling any opponent from the Western Conference when they meet in the NBA Finals.