The Oklahoma City Thunder were poised to pull of an epic upset as they sat on a 3-1 lead on the 73-win Golden State Warriors. That now seems like a long time ago.
The Thunder had an incredible opportunity to close out the series last night as they nursed a lead in the fourth quarter, but Klay Thompson went wild with 11 three-pointers, which seemed to inspire Steph Curry to return to MVP form as well.
Not everyone was as wrong as Skip Bayless on this series. I replied right away to his silly tweet as it was clear after the San Antonio series that Oklahoma City was a team to be reckoned with.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook now have a team around them with some size, so OKC has length along with being perhaps the most athletic team in the NBA. Meanwhile, Steph Curry was awfully quiet for an MVP.
Let’s see what happens next. This should be a great series!
As we move into the second half of the NBA season, some unexpected teams are surging to the top of the ranks. Of course, nobody is surprised by the Miami Heat’s position at the top of the Eastern conference, but the wrong team from Los Angeles seems to be at the top, the Clippers. Many expected the Lakers to be the dominate team in the Western Conference, but they are not even in the picture right now. Here’s a quick look at where we stand as of right now:
1. Miami Heat
2. New York Knicks
3. Indiana Pacers
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Chicago Bulls
6. Brooklyn Nets
7. Milwaukee Bucks
8. Boston Celtics
Biggest Surprises in the East
Probably the biggest surprise is the rivalry matchup sitting in the 2 and 3 seeds currently. Both Indiana and New York were expected to be in the playoff hunt, but not sitting right behind Miami with a legitimate chance to win the East. The Atlanta Hawks can also be thrown into this surprise group, as they are right behind the Pacers and not far behind the east leading Heat.
It’s going to be an exciting run to finish the season and snagging Indiana Pacers tickets for one of the final games, as they renew their historic rivalry with the Knicks, can lead to an exciting and memorable experience. All eight teams have winning records and the top four teams all have a real chance to win the conference.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Golden State Warriors
6. Houston Rockets
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Portland Trailblazers
Biggest Surprises in the West
The biggest surprise found in the western conference has to do with the team not in the playoff picture, as of right now. The 15-20 Los Angeles Lakers were picked to possibly win more games than any other NBA team in history, at the beginning of the season, but they currently sit 10 games back from the 8th and final playoff seed. Another huge surprise lurking even further back than the Lakers is the Dallas Mavericks.
Both of these teams have recently experienced quite a bit of success, but neither is even close to the playoff hunt right now. Without a long winning streak in the second half of the season, we may see the Lakers miss the playoffs for only the 6th time in franchise history and the first time since 2004-2005. We will most likely also see the playoffs played without Dallas for the first time since the 1999-2000 seasons.
With the two biggest surprises coming from the west, predicting the NBA finals teams isn’t all that easy. At the beginning of the year, many experts picked Miami and Los Angeles Lakers to make the finals. However, it’s necessary to re-evaluate the picture now and it’s very likely a team, such as the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks could build enough momentum to overtake Miami in the playoffs.
The west is all up for grabs and the most likely team to go to the finals is the San Antonio Spurs, simply because they know how to get there. Another team to look out for is the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they are young and capable of making a playoff run.
Whichever teams end up in the playoffs and the finals, this season has created quite a bit of excitement. The top teams in both conferences are only a few games apart from each other and nobody is running away with the conference titles. It will be exciting to watch and fun to see how it all shakes out.
Kyrie Irving continues to make his case as one of the the best point guards in the NBA. Consistency and defense are still issues, but that’s true with most young players. Still, we’re seeing a player that is becoming a force in the NBA, and last night’s stunning Cavs win over Oklahoma City will raise even more eyebrows.
After Miami came back against the Pacers, we had to be ready for a possible comeback in game 6 against the Celtics. This team has played well with their backs against the wall. But this really wasn’t about the Heat. I’ve watched Lebron James enough in Cleveland and last season to noticed when he’s about to flake during a game, but he was locked in from the beginning last night. He wasn’t playful. He wasn’t emotional. He was just locked in and focused on basketball. All the talk about his supporting cast, Bosh’s injury or Wade’s play isn’t really relevant. The main variable in the potential success of the Heat has to do with Lebron’s head. If Lebron doesn’t flake out, the Heat easily win last year, and Lebron also could have won a championship with the Cavs. It all comes down on him.
Last night was a big night for Lebron, but he’s had a lot of big nights in the regular season and in the playoffs. None of this matters unless he also leads Miami to a win in game 7, and then plays well in the Finals. Also, his outside shot was falling last night, and we all know that Lebron is pretty much unstoppable when he can hit his outside shot. But when he cools off he sometimes goes into a funk.
The problem this year is that Lebron and the Heat will be running up against a team in the Oklahoma City Thunder that just may be better than the Heat, even if Lebron plays up to his ability and doesn’t flake out. Kevin Durant is a superstar, and he’s surrounded by a gang of young studs that can match up with the Heat when it comes to athleticism. Also, Durant doesn’t need a sports psychologist to get him through the Finals.
So there won’t be much room for error for Lebron if he makes it to the Finals. Don’t crown him king just yet.