I got my wish NBA-wise: That the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz do NOT meet in the first round of the playoffs that will begin tomorrow. It’s going to be tough as a fan to see these two teams get eliminated after the first round battles’ smoke clears up but I am hoping both franchise march to the Conference Semifinals.
I wish at least one of them goes deep. Of course, best scenario would be for the two teams to face each other in the Western Conference Finals (that can happen as they’re in the right bracket positions) but I think the odds of that taking place is very slim considering the depth of their opponents in their respective groupings this season.
Let’s look at the Spurs first: Tall order to beat the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry is out with an injury but it’s not going to diminish the defending champions chances at all in gunning for a back-to-back Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. (Curry could return by the second round.) A lot of things need to fall in place before the Spurs can pull off an upset. This article from MySA pretty much sums up what those are (and I agree with it so I’ll just link it here): 5 things the Spurs need to do to upset the Warriors.
As for the Jazz, they’re matched up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I think Utah has a better chance of advancing to the next round but they need to take Game 1 away from OKC to be the first to establish the tone. I’m not underestimating the Thunder, not a bit, what with them having Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. All can light up the scoreboard at any given night. Although this series can definitely go either way, I’m banking my confidence on Utah’s resurgence from being a goner at 19-28 before putting up an impressive run to end the regular season at 48-34. That’s a 29-6 finishing run! (Rudy Gobert was right — they will return to the playoffs even after losing Gordon Hayward to free agency. And they have a great opportunity to go deeper this time than last season, in my opinion.)
I’m ready for the playoffs tip-off! Good luck to your favorites as well.