2021 NBA Playoff Preview

One of the tightest NBA seasons in history has reached its climax. Who will come out on top?

The weather is heating up and schools are about to go on summer break. That can only mean one thing. It’s NBA playoff time. This year’s playoffs mark the end to one of the strangest seasons in NBA history, a season marked by limited crowds and a shortened season. After 6 months of blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice, it is time to crown the 2020-21 champion of the National Basketball Association. 

The eastern conference is tightly packed. I believe each team can make a fair argument as to why they deserve to make the finals and even be crowned champion. I think for the second straight year, the representative in the east will be the Miami Heat. Although they come in as the 6 seed (the third-lowest seed possible) and don’t have the best team on paper, they have something that other teams don’t have. Big-game experience, They made it all the way to the finals last year before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. This proves that they can win a big game, which is something that the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76s, two higher-seeded teams with a better roster on paper cannot say. When we look at the other favorite in the east, the Brooklyn Nets, some concerns arise. First, their three best players have hardly played with each other this season, making chemistry on the court a weakness. In addition, their defense is non-existent. This is counterbalanced by the best offense in the league but you need both, not just one, to win a championship. Third, they have been woefully inconsistent this season, which over 72 games isn’t a big deal, but in a best of seven series, could be. Combine these, with the downfalls of the other favorites mentioned, and we can see the only clear and obvious choice to make the finals from the eastern conference is the Miami Heat.

The western conference is, similar to the east, extremely log-jammed, and I can see any team making the finals. I have similar concerns about the Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets, and their ability to win a big game. I also feel that the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trailblazers are too reliant on their star players to win games. If you want to win a championship, you have to have a full team, not just one MVP caliber player. I also doubt the ability of the Los Angeles Lakers to repeat for two reasons. One, they played into October of last year (as a result of the pandemic), and had less than a toe month offseason, meaning that sooner or later, fatigue will catch up with them, and I think it will happen sometime during their playoff run. Second, their two-star players, Lebron James, and Anthony Davis spent significant time on the sidelines this season being injured. They both only just returned, so rust and reinjury are two things for the Lakers and their fans to worry about. I do not see them getting past the second round. When it comes to the winner of the western conference, there is only one clear choice. The Los Angeles Clippers, to start, have an extremely experienced coaching staff, something which not every team can say. In addition, their two-star players, Paul Geroge, and Kawi Leonard have been extremely consistent, and injury-free this season, and were also rested in the final few games of the year, so they will be fresh and ready to lead their team to an NBA finals appearance. 

So who, between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers will be crowned the 2020-21 NBA champions? If these two teams do meet each other, I would expect an extremely tight, intense series that will go seven games (which is the longest an NBA playoff series can go). I think the Clippers will edge the series and win their first NBA championship. I think this will happen because they have a more balanced, deeper team than the heat, have historically been healthier than the Heat, and will be less fatigued, as they rested their best players in the last games of the season and did not have as long of a season last year, as the Heat did. No matter what happens, I am looking forward to what should be an exciting, intense playoff to determine the NBA champion.