Sports Column: The halfway point in the NBA playoff race


Hello once again, Troubadour sports fans. I want to say thank you for picking up a newspaper in this digital era and also for making your way to the back page of said paper. I hope to repay you with some quality content, but we’ll answer that question when we get there. In this column, I’m going to dissect some of the NBA teams with a serious chance of taking it all as we head into the second half of the season.

Milwaukee Bucks:

I think that the Bucks are poised to make a deep playoff run and will make it to at least the Eastern Conference Finals. The East is really terrible as a whole, so going past the first round isn’t really that big of a deal for the top three seeds. However, those top three are pretty strong teams that will make for an exciting Eastern Conference Finals. The Bucks stand out to me because of the pieces they have and how they’ve really gelled throughout the course of this year.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a top three player in the NBA right now, and he can carry a team by himself. Khris Middleton has proved to be a top tier secondary scorer that can play off ball very effectively and make plays when needed. His role as “Robin” to Antetokounmpo’s “Batman” has been comparable to the likes of Klay Thompson or CJ McCollum in today’s modern NBA. Other role players like Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook “Splash Mountain” Lopez make for a team that is prepared to see the finals.

Boston Celtics:

The Celtics are currently third in the East; however, they might be the most playoff-prepared team in the conference. Obviously, if Kyrie Irving can stay healthy for the rest of the season, they’ll have the star power and their go-to guy. This team may also have the best role players in the league (the Warriors don’t count), and its made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without its best player before.

Even with all these factors considered, what sets them apart from other teams in the East is coaching. Brad Stevens took a rag-tag squad of hoopers to the Eastern Conference finals two years in a row without their top scorer. The man is a genius who gets his guys to play really disciplined basketball. I think he has many championships coming his way in the future, and it’d be a Cinderella story if it happened this year, but they could pull it off. Look for the Celtics to be challenging the Warriors in the Finals this year.

Oklahoma City Thunder:

You know a team has some incredible players when a guy is quietly averaging a triple double. I know Russell Westbrook isn’t really a quiet player, but he’s been out of the limelight with Paul George having a career year averaging almost 29 points per game. While he’s doing this, Westbrook is putting out a triple double every single game. It’s quite incredible to see these two guys have success playing together. Many people pegged Westbrook as the type of guy who doesn’t play well with other starting players and George as the guy who will never take the big step, but both of them are managing to break those stereotypes. This tandem is going to be really hard to stop in the playoffs as long as they can keep up what they’ve done so far. George has a history of choking and going into his shell when it counts the most, but this could finally be “Playoff P’s” coming out party in the playoffs. Even though they don’t have a lot of depth, look for the Thunder to be in the mix for the Western Conference Finals.

Golden State Warriors:

Do I even have to write this one? The Warriors are so stacked that it’s not even funny. The fact that they seem to add a new super star each year is absurd, and it bothers me more than I’m willing to admit. If you put this team in a simulation, they would probably win the Finals 99 times out of 100.

However, I’m here to suggest some information that a simulation can’t account for and that could cause a meltdown in their nightmare scenario. Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have been butting heads, and Durant was seen on camera after an interaction with Green saying, “This is why I’m out.” Very concerning stuff. There have been a handful of instances where a player in the playoffs does not like his situation and simply gives up on his team mid series. As a Dallas Mavericks fan, I very clearly remember the Rondo fiasco. He gave up on the team mid-game. I was absolutely furious, and we weren’t even a real contender that year. For all the annoying Warriors fans out there, I’d love to see their reaction to a Durant meltdown that leads to a Warriors loss. It would make for great news too.

Let’s be real though, the Warriors will most likely be taking it home this year. The Celtics could try to steal it from them, but it’s 100% the Warriors’ championship to lose.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope I managed to satisfy your thirst for sports nonsense. Come back next month to see what I’ll be babbling on about in the next issue.