The NBA’s plan to restart the season in December, while giving their players the shortest off-season in NBA history has seemingly backfired. We have now seen Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and others miss time and crucial playoff games due to injury. Chris Paul is also out indefinitely due to COVID-19 protocol. This year’s playoffs might be the biggest “What If” playoff run in NBA history.
Having said that, which team should be viewed as the favourites given the current circumstances? In my opinion, I believe it should be the Philadelphia 76ers. Even though Joel Embiid is dealing with a partial tear in his knee, he has still been able to play very well and dominate the Atlanta Hawks in every game besides game 4. He has been averaging 31 points so far in the series. Assuming his injury doesn’t get worse, it is very possible for the 76ers to win the NBA title. If we look at other contenders like the Nets Kevin Durant will do his thing but Kyrie’s health is a question mark and even with Harden’s return we could tell especially after last night that he isn’t himself. I don’t believe a Nets team that’s not near 100% can beat the 76ers. As for the Bucks, after what they did in game 5 against the Nets I have absolutely no faith in them even making it to the finals. Giannis is not good in the clutch and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer does not make proper adjustments.
As for the Western Conference, the Clippers without Kawhi will not make the finals. The Utah Jazz I still do not believe have what it takes to be a legitimate title contender. They need a second star that’s near Donovan Mitchell’s level and they do not have that. In my opinion the Suns have the best chance to make it. Even though Chris Paul is in the COVID-19 protocol there is still a chance that he can play in the Western Conference finals. I believe the Suns are good enough to stay afloat against the Jazz without Chris Paul, so if he is able to come back that will be enough for them to come out on top a represent the West in the finals.
These playoffs have definitely been a let down because of injury but there is still a chance for us as fans and viewers to have memorable games and series. Having said that, the NBA absolutely made a mistake by starting the season that early and we are seeing the results of that which unfortunately negatively impacts their final product.