This Sunday evening will be the last day of the regular NBA 2020-2021 season and there are still teams vying for places in the Western Conference before Play-in begins on Tuesday. We will be reviewing the title contenders at each conference.
In the final game, the Los Angeles Lakers, led by reigning NBA champions Lebron James and Anthony Davis, want to avoid playing Play-in after a season ruined by long-term injuries to their franchise players over the course of the season.
The best scenario to escape this Play-in for the Laker is to win the Pelicans and hope for a loss for the Trail Blazers in their game against the Nuggets. In the event of a Play-in for the Lakers will face the Golden State Warriors led by Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
Obviously, for the fans, this new Play-in system is very interesting because they have to watch games with a lot of tension. However, for the players it can be really exhausting as they have to play two games and then start the play-offs just two days later. Some League Superstar like Lebron James or Luka Doncic express their opinion on this new system.
“Anyone who proposed this … must be fired”
Conveniently, these statements were made as the team slipped up the standings and moved closer and closer to play-in spots.
Now, is it possible for the Los Angeles Lakers to win the title back-to-back through Play-in? Lebron James and Anthony Davis have missed a significant part of the season due to injuries and they are not in perfect physical condition especially Lebron James as his ankle injury is more recent. In my opinion, it will be considerably difficult for them to win the title this year. However, with players as experienced and as good as Lebron James or AD anything is possible if they quickly find their rhythm.
One of the other contenders for the Western Conference title is the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite the many games that Kawhi Leonard missed, Paul George and his teammates got the job done to secure third place for LA’s second franchise. In the play-offs, they could face the Portland Trail Blazers or the Lakers. These two confrontations could be very difficult for the LA Clippers.
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The third team that can claim the title in the Western Conference is in my opinion the Utah Jazz of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert “The Stifle Tower” because they have the first seed of the Western Conference. The Jazz are hands down the best team this regular season, the franchise has grown over the years and this may be the best year for them to win the championship.
The only thing that could negatively impact the team going into the playoffs is Donovan Mitchell’s injury. That said, the Utah guard should be in good shape for the start of the playoffs where they could face the Warriors or the Laker if they get their playoff ticket.
In the Eastern Conference, places for the play-ins and play-offs were almost all allocated before the last games. Still, the New York Knicks wanted to secure their fourth seed.
First place in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers with Ben Simmons and Joel Embid who can claim the MVP trophy. The Sixers have had a great season so far, Embid and Ben Simmons are well supported by the players around them like Seth Curry, Tobias Harris and Dwight Howard. It looks like this year they can at least aim for the Eastern Conference final. In the first round of the 2021 Play-offs, the Sixers’ possible opponents could be the Wizards or the Celtics.
The second Eastern Conference team that can win the title this year is the Brooklyn Nets. The formation of this team is more than impressed by Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin. In terms of team lineup, the Nets are clear favorites for the title.
Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Big 3 only played 8 games together before Sunday night’s game. Nonetheless, with players as good as KD, Kyrie and Harden, they have all the elements to be able to pass and participate in the NBA Finals.
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The latest Eastern Conference team is the Milwaukee Bucks led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. After a slow start to the start of the season, the Bucks have finally started to dominate with Giannis, helped by an excellent Jrue Holiday who is proving to be a great addition to the squad.
Their first playoff round should see them face the Miami Heat, the team that outscored them last year. It should be a good series even though the Heat are nowhere near the same level as last year. The Bucks should be able to reach the Eastern Conference Finals without too much difficulty.
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Even though they haven’t been mentioned in this article, some outsiders like the Suns or the Nuggets may have a serious chance of getting their hands on the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season.
Who do you think should win the title?
Do you think there will be any surprises? Let me know in the comments!