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Hoping to top a stellar regular season, NBA playoffs to tip off this Saturday

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Hoping to top a stellar regular season, NBA playoffs to tip off this Saturday

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Duncan

Future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan is reaching for his sixth NBA title in the 2015 NBA Playoffs.

BY QUINN PRESTON

And then there were 16 left.

The 2014-15 NBA regular season was one of the craziest and most memorable in recent years, but it ended this past Wednesday. The playoffs will kick into gear this Saturday. The regular season was filled with ups and downs for the entire league. Some of those downs included the biggest fan bases having to endure franchise-low seasons as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks suffered historically bad seasons. Throughout the league, many star players missed game time with injuries, including reigning MVP Kevin Durant and 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. Despite these low points, the season produced some of the greatest moments in recent history headlined by a tight MVP race with many players having legitimate cases for the award, including Stephen Curry, James Harden and the one and only, LeBron James. In addition to the MVP race, this season has also seen many young players emerge as next in line for NBA super stardom; those players include Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson, all of whom are under the age of 25.  All in all, 16 teams are ready to battle, each hoping to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

Starting off in the Eastern Conference, there are two clear frontrunners: the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the No.1 and No. 2 seeds respectively. The Hawks are led by a strong team-oriented attack involving four 2015 NBA All-Stars: Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Paul Millsap. The Hawks will look to extend their record-setting regular season success into the playoffs in hopes of capturing their first NBA title. The Cavaliers are led by the three-headed monster of Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Lebron and Co. will look to bring home the city of Cleveland its first NBA title ever. A possible sleeper in the East is the third-seeded Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have endured injuries all year but head into the playoffs almost fully healthy. When healthy, the Bulls can field one of the best lineups in the NBA, including former MVP Derrick Rose, two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol, and reigning Defensive Player of the year, Joakim Noah. Rounding out the East seeds four through eight respectively, are the Toronto Raptors, the Washington Wizards, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, and the Brooklyn Nets. Outside of the Nets, each of these teams has young talent looking to gain valuable playoff experience and possibly make a deeper-than-expected run this year.

Out in the Wild, Wild Western Conference, the playoff picture promises to be much more action-packed. The No. 1 seed Golden State Warriors, led by superstar point guard Curry, put together one of the greatest regular seasons in NBA history. Led by a top-5 offense and defense, the Warriors put together an astonishing 67-15 record and established themselves as the postseason favorite. Despite the Warriors’ great success, every team in the field is a threat to win the West. The No. 2 seed Houston Rockets are led by the bearded scoring machine of James Harden and the low post monster of Dwight Howard. The No. 3 seed Los Angeles Clippers, affectionately known as “Lob City,” boast the ultimate floor general in Chris Paul, who leads a talent-laden roster hoping to bring home the Clippers’ first title ever. Sitting in the No. 4 seed are the Northwest Division champs, the Portland Trail Blazers who will be looking to make a playoff run without one of their main cogs, Wesley Matthews, who is out for the season after tearing his Achilles late in the season. Sitting right behind them are the Memphis Grizzlies who will be relying on their stifling defensive attack to take them far in the playoffs. Despite their low No. 6 seed, the San Antonio Spurs are not to be taken lightly. The Spurs are the defending NBA champs and have retained essentially the same championship roster, including future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, and defensive stalwart and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The defending champs are ready for whatever lays in their path. The Dallas Mavericks occupy the No. 7 seed and hope to ride their talent-filled roster deep into the playoffs and perhaps their second title since 2011. Rounding out the West are the upstart New Orleans Pelicans led by the uber-dominant Davis. The Pelicans boast a young team that will be looking to pull off one of the biggest first-round upsets in NBA history against the Warriors.

This year, it seems as if you can make a legitimate argument for any team (yes even the 4-8 seeds in the East) to make a possible run at the NBA title this year. Every series brings unique match-ups to the table, and it appears this playoffs will provide some of the most entertaining basketball in years. My personal prediction however is that the San Antonio Spurs will defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games, allowing the legendary Tim Duncan to ride off into the sunset after winning his sixth title. But hey, that’s just my prediction, what’s yours?

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