We can all agree that having the NBA back alone has brought a joy back to our lives that has felt more like a saving grace. Watching our favorite teams and stars play the sport we love has helped in distracting us of the ugliness of the world today. Our joy and attention will only be magnified as we near the next stage of the season: the playoffs. Now that it has finally arrived, here are some of the most interesting storylines to pay close attention to as the postseason commences.
TJ Warren and Jimmy Butler Feud
Butler is a no nonsense player that takes pride in his intensity on and off the court. His goal is clearly not to make friends and will protect what’s his no matter what. Earlier in the season, Warren and Butler got into it and then proceeded the discord on social media after the game. These kind of rivalries are great for the game and make you want to watch the games in which they face each other. Little did the basketball world know that Warren would go from role player to what seems like the next big thing in a matter of 8 games. Now the rivalry doesn’t seem as lopsided and will be really fun to watch in this first round playoff matchup.
Sixers Last Stand?
The Sixers have been the potential breakout team season after season, but have continuously come up short. This season is no different as a team with two mega super-stars have found a way to drop all the way to the sixth seed. It is safe to say with the recent injury to Simmons’ the Sixers will not make it out of the first round. If this is the case the Philadelphia front office will most likely have to make a choice between the two stars. It is time for the Sixers to shake things up and see what they can come up with it.
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James’ Last Dance
These two superstars were both phenoms young and were both were high draft picks in the 2004 draft. They fought valiantly for the Rookie of the Year honors and James controversially was awarded the hardware. Throughout their careers they shined brightly and were some of the fiercest competitors to play. Some tend to forget the domination and pure talent that Anthony embodied game after game. In the recent years he has bounced around the league and even was out of the Association for a little while. Like his new team, he has bounced back and his old self. His Blazers snuck into the playoffs and will face James’ Lakers in the first round. There are many that predict the Blazer’s upsetting the Lakers in the first round and the 8th seen beating the 1st. No matter what happens it will exciting to watch these two legends play head to head yet again, and perhaps for the last time.
Chris Paul’s Cinderella Story
Speaking of storylines, perhaps there is none better than that of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2020. Before the season they were not even thought of as a playoff team and the narrative surrounding them was that of a rebuild. There were rumors swirling that Paul wouldn’t even be on the squad by the end of the season. But now, the Thunder have secured the 4th seed and play his former team the Houston Rockets. Paul has proven himself to still be one of the best leaders in the league and looking back it might be the most impressive performance we have witnessed from the future Hall of Famer. With Westbrook missing the first couple games of the season due to injury, the Thunder have a real shot of continuing their run and shocking the world.
Battle of the Bigs
The Utah Jazz were one of the most exciting teams going into the season and played their way into the number four seed in the West. Crisis struck when their phenom Center acquired the feared Coronavirus, which led to the complete shutdown of the league and sports in general. Since, they lost one of their leading scorers and Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley has temporarily left the bubble for the birth of his son. So at least early the Jazz will be depleted offensively. But their defense continues to thrive because of Gobert. The Nuggets obtain an offensive unicorn that stands taller than most talents that can handle the ball like Nikola Jokic. The two have had some intense battles and it will fascinating to watch the two face each other in a playoff series.
Pressure is On For Harden
James Harden has certainly convinced the world of his unworldly offensive abilities. He has done things on the offensive side of the ball that are truly unprecedented. After yet another scoring title there is nothing left to be said about his talent. All that is left to secure a spot among the greats is to finally achieve some kind of success in the post season. The narrative surrounding Harden is that of choking in playoff situations, and he has yet to accomplish anything to negate that theory. This season may be his time to finally take the next step and make some noise in the playoffs.
Superstar or Next Face of the League?
Giannis is most certainly deserving of yet another MVP award, and has clawed his way to the top seed of the East. His Bucks were an absolute problem in the regular season, but they have to finish the job and cruise their way through to the Finals. Although Giannis is a freak and a monster on the court some may seem his as bland and might forget him, because he plays in small market in the middle of country. To secure his place as the next face of the league he must do more than simply collect awards, he needs to win. He needs to start winning championships. The pressure is starting to mount and this is the year where he needs to at least take the Bucks to the championship.