Los Angeles Clippers
Yes, I know. They have a rep of choking in the playoffs. Yet ever since losing superstar Blake Griffin to injury, injury, and suspension, the Clippers haven’t lost 10 games. With Griffin coming back just in time for the playoffs, this Clippers team could be scary. Of course their season didn’t start great, with many experts ripping them about their defense which was projected to be the best defense in the league. Obviously it’s not, but it has greatly improved from day one to the current point in the season. One can only assume that it will be better when Blake Griffin gets back in the mix. Not the mention it seems that they have lost their choking ability this season, instead adding a comeback ability. 2 examples are the last game they played against the Warriors where in 4 minutes they erased a 15 point GS lead (although they wound up to lose by 3 points) and the March 2nd game against the Thunder where the Clippers were down 20 points at halftime, came back to win the game. Just 2 prime examples that they can and will fight,
Oklahoma City Thunder
Even though I ragged on them in the previous paragraph, the Thunder are a really good team. Unfortunate to them, the past 2 seasons have been plagued with injury. However, this season Durant and Westbrook have been healthy, but things still a little time to click between the team. Because of last season (Durant being injured), Westbrook had to put a one man show on to win games. However, with Durant back he needs to remember he has a team now. He’s slowly working at this, and most have a feeling when it’s playoff time these problems will be resolved. Of course, they need to fix the choking plague they must have inherited from the Clippers as they have blown multiple leads in their last few games.
San Antonio Spurs
This was pretty much a given to be on the list. With the second best record (only 9 losses), the Spurs are over the injury hump that every team gets. Now they are perfecting their craft with the best coach in the NBA. All the pieces are there and they have became a scary team. With the team playing their best basketball right now, just in time for the playoffs, the Spurs are a legitimate threat. With their big 3 getting up there in age it also seems another ring would be the perfect sendoff. That’s just another motive for the Spurs. Everyone talks about the “small ball” that the Warriors play and how no one can shut it down. That’s true, no one can shut it down. Which is going to end up hurting the Warriors because even they can’t stop it and the Spurs can play it. With this Spurs team you cannot pull anything on them that they don’t know how to shut down. With their coach and a few certain players they have seen it all. They know the in’s and out’s of basketball and the Warriors are going to have to see that or they are going to loss. And worst of all for the Warriors, they’ll lose when it hurts the most.
Golden State Warriors
You read that correct. The Golden State Warriors will beat themselves in the playoffs. Now you may ask how in the world that is possible. Well here is how: The Warriors are too focused on breaking this record. Multiple times this year the Warriors have put their big players despite being hurt. Why they have done this? They are hungry for the record and congratulations to them for fighting for something. But you have to realize that playing your players too hard to break a record is a big mistake and will come to bite you in the butt at the worst time. The worst times for the Warriors? The playoffs, most likely late in the playoffs. With very little time off between playoff series, it’s gonna be hard for these players to rest fully before having to go play another game. The same thing was seen last year with the Cleveland Cavilers. They played (mostly Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving) too hard and it hit them at the worst time. The Eastern Conference finals saw Kyrie join Love on the bench, hurt. And it’s a very real possibility that the same thing happens with the Warriors. Maybe it won’t be Steph Curry, but it could Klay Thompson or Draymond Green that go down, maybe even both. And that would hurt the Warriors more then Steph Curry going down. Now, it’s time for the wildcard.
WILDCARD: Memphis Grizzles
Now now, I know you are probably thinking I’m dumb right? Well I’m not. The Grizzles are quietly sitting at 5th in the western conference, but they are playing good basketball. With winning the last 5 out of 7, the Grizzles are building up a nice win streak that builds them confidence and momentum, which can obviously positively affect how a team plays. If they are riding high in the playoffs and meet the Warriors they have a nice chance of beating them. These team continues to be slept on but they are getting ready to shock all the doubters in the playoffs.
Well, there we go. The Warriors are not unstoppable. In fact, it may even be themselves that hurt them. From the experienced Spurs, to the red hot Clippers, to the unpredictable Thunder, to the underdog Grizzles, to themselves they Warriors have threats left and right. Now the real question is, will they be able to see this and adapt to combat themselves against these teams that have completely different playing styles? We’ll figure out soon enough.