NBA Playoffs: Who will hoist the O’Brien trophy?


Bella Lee, Staff writer

With college basketball and March Madness behind us, it is time to focus on professional basketball again—the NBA that is, now that the playoffs are in full swing.
Following the play-in tournament on April 11-14, the playoffs officially began on April 15. This year’s NBA playoffs are seeing a lot of exciting matchups. The West contains the Denver Nuggets versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Phoenix Suns versus the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sacramento Kings versus the Golden State Warriors, and the Memphis Grizzlies versus the Los Angeles Lakers. The East involves the Milwaukee Bucks against the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers against the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers against the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics against the Atlanta Hawks.
There is lots to look forward to in these playoffs. This is the first time since all four of these teams shared a home state (California) that the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors have all made it to the playoffs. On top of that, the Kings are seeing their first playoff appearance since 2006. Additionally, this is the first playoff appearance Kevin Durant has seen in a Suns jersey since joining the team on Feb. 9 of this year, but it seems to be working out in his favor, as there was instant chemistry.
This strikes some as hollow chemistry, with the opportunistic forward again jumping on board an established contender, with his Golden State move in 2017. But it is real, based on Durant’s comments about Phoenix’s appeal and a little awe coming from his new teammates. “I’m watching every step that he makes very closely,”said Devin Booker.
Similar to Durant and the Suns, Donovan Mitchell is seeing his first playoff appearance with a new team, in his case the Cavaliers. The ultra-confident scorer looked custom-tailored for the Cavaliers in the regular season. Now the team and its fans would love to see something akin to Mitchell’s “bubble” playoff form in 2020, when he averaged 36.3 points and 8.3 free throws, while hitting 51% of his threes.
One team that is expected to overcome a difficult row, however, is the Lakers, who are currently sitting at a 7 seed. The last team to be of a lower seed, but win it all was the 6 seed Houston Rockets in 1995, so the Lakers will have to pull off some miracles in order to achieve that.
The 76ers are also facing a tumultuous road. They have not reached the East finals since 2001, when Allen Iverson was bedeviling foes as The Answer. The current Sixers are bedeviled by The Question: Will they ever reach their potential? Coach Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, James Harden and exec Daryl Morey should be feeling their seats getting warmer. Speaking of the 76ers, Harden is one of several NBA veterans, alongside Chris Paul of the Suns and Russell Westbrook of the Clippers, who has yet to win a title in their long careers. This could finally be a chance for one of them to see glory.
The playoffs will be going on for quite some time, with the Finals slated for the beginning of June. We can not wait to see how far these teams go!