I have the map of the United States in my mind. The reason is none other than to locate the 16 franchises that will form the exciting NBA playoffs 2015. The one from last year will no longer serve us.
If last year you had cities like Charlotte, Indianapolis (Pacers) or the finalist Miami marked in the ‘Eastern Conference’, in this playoff you can already change them for Cleveland, Milwaukee and Boston. In the West we will have to do the same with Oklahoma City for New Orleans.
The truth is that the Regular Season has left us pleasant surprises, as well as great disappointments. Without a doubt, the Warriors earn admiration and respect wherever they go. The disappointments have been the two franchises that have won the most titles. Lakers have had the worst season in their history, while the Celtics will play the first knockout round, but without being a clear favorite for the title.
Here we show you the table of the NBA playoffs
But we are going to focus on the teams that choose to win this year with the Larry O’Brien and the NBA champion rings.
The 2 favorites
The statistics show two clear candidates for the final. The Atlanta Hawks started 2015 tremendously well and were the best team in January in the competition. From December 28, 2014 to February 1, 2015 they had an impressive streak of 18 wins and no losses. The team led by Paul Millsap has been the best in the East, with a good team game.
On the other hand, in the West is the best team of the regular season. At the beginning of the season, no one believed that the Warriors could put up the excellent numbers they have done during the course, the best season played in their history. A piece of information: at the Oracle Arena they have only lost 2 of the 41 games they have played to date. They are now riding an 18-game winning streak at home. Spurs and Bulls managed to defeat them on the most reliable court in the NBA. Leader? Stephen Curry. The sensational base of the Californians has left plays that will occupy several minutes in the summaries of the season. In addition, he is a firm candidate to be crowned MVP of the competition.
The 5 candidates
By numbers, they should be the two seconds and the two thirds of the conferences. But I’m not going to do it this way. The defending champion, Parker and Duncan’s Spurs have finished the final part being the fittest team. This is demonstrated by the 11 victories in the last 12 games. In the last game of the regular season they relaxed and fell on their court against the Pelicans, who were at stake to be in the playoffs (103-108).
In Texas we find the other candidate from the West. Yes, the Houston Rockets. While Harden, Howard and company are on the track, the Texans will change that from “Houston, we have a problem” to “We are Houston! They have the problem!”. And it is that if the most famous beard in American basketball continues averaging the 27 points that have made him the second highest scorer, the rivals will have a serious problem to stop him.
Cleveland and Clippers have also finished very strong, with both franchises offering their title bid. Those from Ohio have been gaining points in the race to the final. And it is that a team that has LeBron James, Irving or Love is a sure bet to show and raise the O’brien.
The second candidate we propose from the East is the Canadian representative. Those of Toronto do not seem to finish so strong compared to the beginning. But a playoff automatically charges the batteries to 200%. The Raptors have been one of the top scorers of the season, which has helped them win the Atlantic Division title.
The 2 we would like
If you’re convinced this block is made up of the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, there’s only one thing you can do: thank your crystal ball for its shooting ERA. And take the opportunity to keep it in a drawer for having gone to safe value.
We already saw how the Gasol brothers disputed a high jump, in the purest Felix Baumgartner style, only something more earthly. But the photo has also gone down in history: the two brothers from Barcelona making the initial jump of the All Stars 2015. What more can we ask of them?
Indeed, we want to see them playing the NBA final. Both have completed an excellent course. Pau and Mirotic from Chicago have returned the illusion to a Bulls fan that sees possibilities beyond mere qualification for the qualifying rounds. In addition, in this part Rose joins after his injury, so the possibilities are increased.
The Gasol midfielder has managed to make the Memphis a strong, solid and judicious team when it comes to playing good basketball. The 33 of the Grizzlies has been the great benchmark for his team, which with the help of Randolph, Lee and company have been a very tough nut to crack for the remaining 29 NBA teams. They have been the 2nd best defense of the championship. They are one of the best teams in the Regular Season, so not believing in them as a candidate would be absurd.
The 3 surprises
Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks. The other Texan team in the competition, those from Dallas, wants to surprise the West. The 2011 winning franchise wants to try the feat of yesteryear again. They have quality with Rondo, Ellis, Nowitzki or Chandler. His role, for sure, will not be participatory.
The two candidates to surprise the East are the Wizards and the Bucks. Two good templates, competitive but without having the necessary plus to stand out excessively. In addition, they have finished the regular phase somewhat tired.
The 4 bombs
In the west, two teams that intend to blow up these playoffs: Portland and New Orleans. The Blazers have had very good games, like the Pelicans, but they finished the season exhausted, so we don’t think they can reach the conference finals.
We continue with the numbers. This conference is the one that has been the most open. In the last week of the regular season, 6 teams competed for 3 playoff spots. The 2014 finalist, the Miami Heat, are very close to being knocked out. Only a good carambola would give them the pass. The position that remains to be assigned seems to go, for now, to the Nets. Those of Boston have taken their passport for the playoffs in their penultimate game. They have improved considerably. For now, their first playoff tie would measure the Cavaliers, whom they have beaten twice in the last week, once in Ohio and once in Boston.