It’s mid-April and that means the NBA playoffs are upon us. The brackets are all set to be printed and ready to be mulled over.
To help you out, we’re here to give you our take and predictions for this year’s postseason. The questions in the West are whether the Spurs and Rockets challenge the Warriors, or will Golden State advance to their third consecutive NBA Finals? In the East, it’s not nearly as clear with he Cavs looking and playing terrible in the last month. Really, any of the top four can advance in the East, but out of the Celtics, Cavs, Raptors, and Wizards, which one will get there?
Usually, the NBA Champion is the #1 or #2 Seed
Since 2000, a #1 seed won the NBA championship more than 50% of the time. That’s 9 out of 17 NBA finals where the top team from either conference took home the trophy. When you add second seeds, you’re looking at 13 out of 17 — that’s more than 76% of the time. And no #4 seed has ever won the championship.
In fact, since 1980 only two #4 seeds (2006 Dallas Mavericks and 2010 Boston Celtics) and two #6 seeds (Houston Rockets in 1981 and 1995) have even made it to the final stage of the NBA playoffs. And only the 1995 Rockets actually won the championship.
|2000||Los Angeles Lakers (1)||Indiana Pacers (1)|
|2001||Los Angeles Lakers (2)||Philadelphia 76ers (1)|
|2002||Los Angeles Lakers (3)||New Jersey Nets (1)|
|2003||San Antonio Spurs (1)||New Jersey Nets (2)|
|2004||Detroit Pistons (3)||Los Angeles Lakers (2)|
|2005||San Antonio Spurs (2)||Detroit Pistons (2)|
|2006||Miami Heat (2)||Dallas Mavericks (4)|
|2007||San Antonio Spurs (3)||Cleveland Cavaliers (2)|
|2008||Boston Celtics (1)||Los Angeles Lakers (1)|
|2009||Los Angeles Lakers (1)||Orlando Magic (3)|
|2010||Los Angeles Lakers (1)||Boston Celtics (4)|
|2011||Dallas Mavericks (3)||Miami Heat (2)|
|2012||Miami Heat (2)||Oklahoma City Thunder (2)|
|2013||Miami Heat (1)||San Antonio Spurs (2)|
|2014||San Antonio Spurs (1)||Miami Heat (2)|
|2015||Golden State Warriors (1)||Cleveland Cavaliers (2)|
|2016||Cleveland Cavaliers (1)||Golden State Warriors (1)|
Usually, the Core Team Needs to Experience Heartbreak
In most cases, the path to the NBA title requires a core group of players to have experienced success and failures deep into the playoffs. Usually, the team that has won the championship has already lost in the finals. Very rarely does a team get as far as the NBA Finals without their core group of players tasting (and losing) in the Finals the year previously or at the very least, sheding tears after a Conference Finals.
There’s no nepotism when it comes to getting an NBA ring or “Cinderellas” advancing out of nowhere you see during March Madness. It’s not just talent and how the team did in the regular season, but like any job; it requires real-life experience and the lessons learned along the way. Unless you’re Donald Trump.
Here’s how the Western and Eastern Conference Finals played out the last three years:
|2014||Miami Heat||Indiana Pacers|
|2015||Cleveland Cavaliers||Atlanta Hawks|
|2016||Cleveland Cavaliers||Toronto Raptors|
|2014||San Antonio Spurs||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2015||Golden State Warriors||Houston Rockets|
|2016||Golden State Warriors||Oklahoma City Thunder|
When It Comes Down To It
When it comes down to it and you take into consideration the above, it’s easier to make your bets without as much risk (claim an Australian casino bonus). We’re looking at the seeds and recent success/failure of the teams. So taking all that in mind – that removes all seeds below #4. That includes the Oklahoma City Thunder (#6), Atlanta Hawks (#5), and Utah Jazz (#5).
Now, without the experience usually required, it’s difficult to pick any team to come out of your bracket that hasn’t paid their dues — unless you have online slots that Aussies like. For example, the Washington Wizards (#4) haven’t even played in the Conference Finals. The Clippers (#4) core team has been together a few years now but they haven’t gotten to the Conference Finals either, so they’re out. Boston Celtics (#1) are also out of the equation despite their top seeding during the regular season. The Thunder (#6) is unique in that they did appear in the West Finals, but that was with a team that boasted Kevin Durant.
Now to the contenders: With an appearance in last year’s Eastern Finals as well as a #3 seed, the Raptors have an outside chance of lifting the trophy. The same goes with James Harden and the #3 Rockets, whom appeared in the Conference Finals in 2015. They’ve proven themselves and have a history-proven seed that they have what it takes to get to the champion round.
That brings us with the #2 Cleveland Cavs, the #2 San Antonio Spurs and #1 Golden State Warriors as two top seeds and all three having the requisite experience of winning (and losing) in the NBA Finals. As we mentioned, the #1 seed has won the NBA title more than 50% of the time they’re reached the finals. Using this simple formula, the numbers point at the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors as your 2017 NBA Champion.