The Golden State Warriors have a chance at history. They may very well break the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls season record of 72-10. Even if they do not break it, at the very least they are favourites to repeat as NBA champions. However, that is the extremely funny part; in a season where the Warriors could possibly finish with the best record in NBA history, there are legitimate threats to The Golden State Warriors’ winning the championships.
There are teams that can give the reigning NBA champions a heck of a fight. Here is the NBA playoffs picture.
The Golden State Warriors are the clear favourites to repeat as World Champions. At 70-9, they are 3 games away from breaking the legendary 95-96 Chicago Bulls record of 72-10. Those same Bulls went on to win the NBA Championship and one would be hard pressed to think that the Warriors will not do the same. This is the part where I remind you that in 95-96 the Bulls dominated the post season. There is a reason why there is the saying “Michael Jordan never went to a game 7 in the NBA finals”. The Bulls swept two teams, and only lost once before winning against a Supersonics squad. It was never really in doubt for the Chicago Bulls and the casual fan expects the same out of the 2015-2016 Warriors. While I do not see the Warriors breezing by the playoffs, the Warriors are the favourites this year to win.
The Official Opposition
The reason why basketball purists do not want to crown the Warriors as early champions just yet is the San Antonio Spurs. The San Antonio Spurs at 65-13, have done it again. Gregg Popovich obviously deserves some credit but it is not just a coaching job as this team actually has more talent than last year. The Tandem of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge has been unbelievable. Mix that in with “Ol’ Reliable” Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and it is no wonder why the Spurs are where they are. They have the best chance to beat the Warriors in a 7-game playoff series. While I would still bet on the Warriors, the Spurs are not a team to take lightly.
The Dark Horse
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in 3rd place in the Western Conference standings, boasting a record of 54-25. While they are not a team one thinks of to clearly challenge the Warriors, the Thunder do have the pieces. The Thunder have a great two-way point guard in Westbrook to defend Curry, a lethal scorer in Durant, A good defender who can shoot in Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter, who offensively can be a great third option. The OKC Thunder will give the teams they face in the playoffs problems and if they are hot for a series against the Warriors, watch out.
Side note: in the “He still plays?!?!” sweepstakes, Nazr Mohammed is on the Thunder’s roster and actually played on April 5th against the Nuggets. Go look it up, I am not lying.
The Long Shot
While the Eastern Conference as a whole has been much more improved from seasons past, the top teams in the West are clearly better against the top teams in the East. However, Cleveland is still Cleveland. While I think this season LeBron has been the third best player in the world, he has been the consensus best player in the world for the last 6-7 years. Cleveland is 56-23 and will most likely represent the East in the NBA Finals. From there we have seen what LeBron can do with a depleted roster, thus, imagine a healthy roster. While the team chemistry has taken a step back from last season, the Cavaliers did not get a look at the Warriors while healthy in a playoff game and could shock the world.
The Really Long Shot
No it is not the Clippers, it is the Raptors. The Clippers need Blake Griffin to play well to even have a shot at the Warriors and there is little evidence to suggest that Griffin will be 100% come playoff time. The Raptors on the other hand, at 52-26 - is better than the Clippers 50-28 - have a number of factors that can go their way. The Raptors are actually a good team that plays their best against great teams. There is a reason why the Raptors own a tiebreaker over the Cavaliers for 1st place in the East. The problem with the Raptors is every once in the while the Raptors will lose in such a fashion where experts question the Raptors toughness. With that being said, if the Raptors can get hot in the playoffs then Cleveland is in trouble. From that perspective, barring a famous Raptors-like calamity, the Raptors can make some noise.
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