My NBA playoff predictions


Photo by Ethan Lee

Staffer Ethan Lee’s NBA playoff predictions.

Ethan Lee, Writer

The 2019-2020 NBA playoffs began on Aug. 17 with the league’s top 16 teams competing to win a single championship trophy. As an NBA fanatic, the following predictions for this year’s playoff performances, including who I think will win the conference and league championship.

Although all eight seeds for each conference are locked in now, the race for the eighth seed in the Western conference was tough. Despite the Phoenix Suns’ 8-0 record in the bubble, they fell short of making the play-ins when the Portland Trail Blazers won a nail-biting match, securing their spot over the Suns. Since the regular season was cut short due to COVID-19, the NBA introduced the play-in game, a game between the eighth and ninth seed to see who will make the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Trail Blazers won their play-in, securing the eighth seed with a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in another close game.

Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers came out as the first and second seeds, respectively, for the regular season in the Western conference. Both of their squads consist of multiple superstar players who have the potential to carry their teams to a winning record. I find it difficult to imagine any other teams in the conference stand a chance against them. The Denver Nuggets, who are the third seed, have a track record of not performing to their full capabilities in the playoffs, while the Houston Rockets are facing injury issues this year with one of their stars, Russell Westbrook. Despite an unbelievable season performance from the league underdog, the Oklahoma City Thunder, I believe their talent cannot compete with that of the Clippers and the Lakers in the playoffs. 

The series that I will be looking forward to is between the Clippers and Lakers. The Lakers will be able to win the Western Conference with their powerful duo, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James is one of the best to have ever played in the league and with Davis, a center who can both shoot on the perimeter and take it inside the paint, the Lakers will be hard to defeat in a best of seven series. The Lakers also have great role players, such as Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard and Alex Caruso to accompany their superstars. They have a well rounded team that is capable of shooting the ball on offense and playing lockdown defense on the other side of the court. On the other hand, the Clippers’ stars all play the same role as forwards who need to have the ball to be effective. There could be problems over who gets to have possession of the ball, giving them a disadvantage. 

In the Eastern Conference, the competition is weaker. The Milwaukee Bucks have dominated the East with the best record in the league. Led by current MVP front-runner, Giannis Antetokounmpo, it seems that the other teams in the East don’t stand a chance. Other than the defending champions, the Toronto Raptors, who may not have enough talent to beat the Bucks in a best of seven series, there are no other teams that are able to compete with them.

Next comes the NBA Finals, in which I predict that the series will be between the Bucks and the Lakers, with the Lakers winning. Despite my feelings against James for carrying his team to a 3-1 comeback win against the Golden State Warriors four years ago, I believe it’s inevitable that the Lakers will win this year. In 2016, James dropped 50 points a game, carrying his seemingly useless teammates during the finals to win Cleveland’s first ever championship. I just don’t see a way that James would underperform when he is trying to collect titles and leave a legacy as the greatest basketball player of all time. With Davis, a player who averaged close to a double-double during the season, by his side, I find it hard for the Bucks to win without a miracle occuring. This title series will be a tough fight, but ultimately, the Lakers will be able to win this year’s title. 

Despite interruptions caused by the pandemic, this year’s NBA season has been a treat for us fans. With all playoff contending teams boasting multiple all-stars on their roster, the games have been more than exhilarating to watch. I believe that each playoff match will be as intense as ever, because the all-stars are hungry for championship rings to foster their legacy. I can’t wait for the playoffs to begin and I know each match will be exciting to watch.