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The news that keeps us Onward On!
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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

NBA playoffs feature underdog victories and narrow triumphs

Michael Tipton, Flickr
The Boston Celtics are predicated to perform well in the NBA playoffs after securing the Eastern Conference title in the regular season.

It’s that time of year again for NBA fans as 16 teams compete for a chance at glory and the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. The playoffs have just begun and fans have already seen a fair share of nail-biting finishes and drama that they have become accustomed to as the officiating loosens, physicality increases and the lights get brighter. Monday night was a perfect example of the spectacular play exemplified in the playoffs.

The New York Knicks scored eight points in the last twenty-seven seconds to erase a five-point deficit over the Philadelphia 76ers, which included a thrilling loose ball possession in a victory. After the bruising battle in New York, the late game slate was between the reigning champions, the Denver Nuggets and the storied franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers. Denver dissolved a nineteen-point lead by the Lakers in the third quarter and capped it off with a game-winning buzzer-beater shot by Jamal Murray. It was a perfect day for fans of the NBA and those with an appreciation for some of the most skilled athletes in the world to showcase their craft and admirable work ethic.

The 2023-2024 playoffs come with high anticipation as the league is bursting at the seams with talent. From July 4, 2016 to June 20, 2019, the league’s competitiveness reached an all-time low when superstar Kevin Durant teamed up with the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, to make arguably the most dominant team in the history of the sport. Fans lost enthusiasm for the playoffs with the result, a Warriors championship, seeming inevitable year after year.

Since Durant’s tenure with Golden State, where they won two NBA titles and possessed a finals appearance until an untimely achilles injury to Durant left them vulnerable to losing once again, the league’s parity has once again returned. The list of true contenders has widened, elite talent has increased and small market teams built naturally through the draft and trades have a better opportunity to defeat the bigger market teams.

That being said, two teams are clear Vegas favorites to get through their respective conferences and meet in the finals: the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics.

The reigning champion Nuggets have one of the most offensively efficient cores ever constructed. Denver is led by two-time MVP and presumed 2023-2024 MVP, Nikola Jokic. The Serbian center dazzles every night with almost a flawless offensive skill set consisting of a plethora of post moves using exceptional footwork, dominant rebounding, the ability to knock down outside shots and the ability to throw some of the most absurd passes one will ever see in the game of basketball. Jokic is a triple-double machine and is paired with a cold-blooded star point guard Jamal Murray The Murray/Jokic pick and roll surrounded by shooters and cutters remains the best half-court offensive option in the league when games tighten and every possession becomes more important.

In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are more than ready to claim their first NBA title since 2008. After reaching the finals in 2022, the Celtics have come close to perfecting their playoff rotation. Their core of athletic wings, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, have become even more dangerous with the acquisitions of 7’2” sharpshooter and rim deterrent Kristaps Porzingis and physical lockdown defending guard Jrue Holiday. The Celtics were 64-18 this season with a top-rated offense and defense.

However, despite these title favorites, the field is wide open for teams and stars to make their mark in the postseason. Look for teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder as dark horse candidates to make deep playoff runs after promising regular seasons. The Bucks are especially intriguing after making a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers to acquire Damian Lillard and pair him with two-time MVP, the Greek sensation, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The team was expected to easily be a top-three team this year, but regular season struggles have hindered expectations and as a result, they fired their head coach mid-season in favor of hiring coaching veteran Doc Rivers. Look for an experienced and talented Milwaukee team, who won a title just three seasons ago, to make noise.

Additionally, another intriguing situation is brewing in Minnesota. The team surpassed expectations this season falling just one game short of a number one seed. Minnesota possesses the number one rated defense anchored by the heavily criticized three time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Minnesota’s best offensive player is of course 22 year old phenom Anthony Edwards. The young explosive two-guard has unparalleled athleticism and a hard-nosed mentality built for the gauntlet of the playoffs.

There is alot to anticipate as the NBA playoffs unfold. The hope is that the league continues to expand and create a space for all the enjoy the game of basketball.

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    LisaApr 25, 2024 at 5:06 pm

    Wolves-Bucks final?