By MILES PREKOSKI
As the 2019 postseason begins, the end of a dynasty is in the air. Steph Curry’s Warriors are looking to have a prosperous April, but if anyone thinks the western conference isn’t going to test the superteam, they’d be wrong.
This year saw teams that put up a fight; it feels like nobody in the league wants to see the Warriors come out as champions again. Despite this, the eastern conference saw three new teams vying in the playoff picture. Three!
Meanwhile, the red-hot Rockets want revenge. James Harden, who should be a lock for MVP with his average 35 points per game, is leading his team to a possible upset. Maybe this year they won’t miss 27 three-pointers in the final minutes of a Game 7 appearance. Clearly, the only obstacle for Houston will be not choking again.
Houston isn’t the only western conference city vying for a championship this year: The Denver Nuggets have shown that they’re the most consistent team in the league this year, putting up the best home record of any team and staying consistently close behind the Warriors
Big men like all-star Nikola Jokic (20 PPG, 10 RPG), Mason Plumlee and Paul Milsap paired with clutch guards like Jamal Murray and Isaiah Thomas make for a squad that can likely make it to the western conference finals.
In the east, the Bucks are playing like an NBA finals team. As the first team to clinch a playoff spot, and coming to a close with a 60-win season, it’s almost impossible for eighth seed Orlando Magic to take them down. This leaves a few remaining threats: the Celtics, Raptors, and 76ers.
Philadelphia is still trusting the process after an extremely eventful series of trades led the 76ers to one of the best starting five lineups in the league. With Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, all of whom are having career-high seasons in most categories, the future is bright in Philly.
After being hyped as a lock for the finals in the pre-season, the Celtics seem to be going through problems during the second half of the season, something that could pose as a threat for Kyrie Irving and his young stars.
So here’s how those playoffs may look: The Bucks will come up with a smashing victory against the Magic in the first round, going on to defeat the fifth seed Celtics, giving them a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals. They’ll meet the Toronto Raptors after Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry fight hard against the Pistons and Sixers. The winner of the east? Milwaukee.
On the other hand, the West won’t see much change. The Warriors will storm past the Spurs in Round 1 and move on to play the Houston Rockets in Round 2. Keep in mind, every time the Warriors play the Rockets in the playoffs, Golden State wins.
The other half of the West is a much more interesting story. My prediction for the WCF is the Golden State Warriors vs. the Denver Nuggets. The winner of that series? Golden State.
This year was huge for unexpectedly great teams and major changes, but a three-peat is on our hands. The Golden State Warriors will win their third straight title this year.