With one week left before the NBA Playoffs start in 2023, my excitement is through the roof. I can’t wait to see many different teams in the playoffs. This year, there are so many different things to watch for. However, I would like to first start off by establishing that I am a Golden State Warriors fan, so I may be a bit biased toward Steph Curry and my Warriors.
With the regular season dwindling down and the play-in tournament having not taken place yet, I can’t state much about the matchups, but I will describe some topics I am certainly looking forward to.
Initially, before addressing the playoff teams, I would like to talk about how disappointing the Mavericks were this season (I’m sorry Mavs fans). Coming into the season, they had big expectations due to their appearance in the Western Conference Finals the year before. The Dallas Mavericks saw Jalen Brunson leave for the New York Knicks in the offseason. However, they were still staying afloat, drifting around the 4-6 seed range in the Western Conference until February. In February, a few days before the trade deadline, the Mavs traded for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, with hopes that he would be able to take their team to the NBA Finals alongside Luka Doncic. However, this experiment failed, with the Mavs losing the majority of their games with Luka and Kyrie together and ultimately resulting in them falling outside the required seeding (1-10) to compete in the postseason. Nonetheless, the Mavs still have an incredibly bright future and I can definitely see them going far in the postseason next year, as long as they do well in free agency by adding some bench depth and defense. Even adding an older big man like Dwight Howard or Demarcus Cousins can do wonders for them.
With last year’s Western Conference Finals Runner up eliminated from postseason contention, the West is wide open for other teams to have a chance. The Denver Nuggets, a team that has been really good for a few years now, along with their two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, may see some playoff success this year as they have been able to snatch the one seed. The Memphis Grizzlies, the second seed in the West, are also going to see their chance to go further in the playoffs. The three-seeded Sacramento Kings have had an amazing year, ending their sixteen-season playoff drought. However, their lack of experience and the fact that they will either play the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, or the defending champion Golden State Warriors have me thinking that they’ll have a first-round exit. Those three teams who are in competition for the sixth seed have five superstars combined along with really good supporting players.
Despite all of this, the Western team to watch in my opinion is the Phoenix Suns. They have a star-studded super team with Kevin Durant at the helm. This team went to the NBA Finals in 2021 before losing in six games without Kevin Durant, so the addition of Kevin Durant has me scared for their potential. If the healthy Phoenix Suns play your team, watch out. You might be in for some heartbreak.
The Golden State Warriors, my team, have had an up-and-down season. They started out struggling, even going 4-7 throughout their first eleven games. Then, Stephen Curry, the team’s superstar, and a generational talent, got injured twice throughout the season, missing a handful of games. However, as of recently, the Warriors have been playing inspired basketball and I’m excited to see how my team will do in the postseason.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers are two star-studded teams that both started the season with a lot of losses, but have found themselves throughout the last one and a half months of the regular season and climbed the standings.
Now, moving to the East, I believe there are only three teams to pay attention to in the Eastern Conference. No disrespect to any of the other teams in the Eastern Conference, but these three teams are powerhouses that will be tough to defeat in a seven-game series. These teams are the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers, also the 1-3 seeds in their conference. The Milwaukee Bucks won the championship in 2021 and their team is only getting better every year, so I can definitely see them going deep in the postseason this year. Next up is the Boston Celtics, who went to the NBA Finals last season before losing to my Warriors. This Boston team is centered around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but they also have last year’s Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart along with some great supporting pieces like Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, Robert Williams III, and Al Horford. When they are at their best, they can be really difficult to beat. My last contender in the East has to be Philadelphia. They have struggled in the playoffs every year, usually losing in the first or second round, so I can’t necessarily trust that this is their year. Regardless of their previous struggles, this is a team with Joel Embiid, who is the MVP in my opinion, along with James Harden. If they will eventually win a championship together in Philly, I feel like this can be their best chance.
With the NBA Playoffs starting next weekend, I’m incredibly excited to see how it plays out. Of course, I’m hopeful that my Golden State Warriors can do their thing and get another championship, going back-to-back. However, we must wait and see. On April 15, the NBA Playoffs will begin and I highly advise you to tune in if you have an interest in watching some amazing talent leave it all on the floor for a chance to win the 2023 NBA Championship.