Race for the Crown: An inside look at who can win the NBA title (Editorial)


The matchups for the NBA Playoffs will make for impressive viewing.

Bryce Wolaver, Staff Writer

The NBA Playoffs tipped off on Saturday, April 15. Each year, the top eight seeds from the Western & Eastern conferences compete for a chance to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy and be crowned NBA Champions. The trophy was named after the former league commissioner in 1977, and has been called that ever since. The NBA Finals start in late May and feature the last remaining team from each conference. The Golden State Warriors won in 2022.

All rounds in the playoffs follow a best of seven format. To advance, a team will have to win four of the seven games before losing four games. Games five, six, and seven are only necessary if each team wins one game. For example: if a team wins the first 4 games, the other team is eliminated, and the last 3 games are unnecessary. 

The first-round matchups in the West are:

#1 Nuggets vs #8 Timberwolves (Nuggets lead 1-0)

#2 Grizzlies vs #7 Lakers (Lakers lead 1-0)

#3 Kings vs #6 Warriors (Kings lead 2-0)

#4 Suns vs #5 Clippers (Series tied 1-1) 

The first-round matchups in the East are: 

#1 Bucks vs #8 Heat (Heat lead 1-0)

#2 Celtics vs #7 Hawks (Celtics lead 2-0)

#3 76ers vs #6 Nets (76ers lead 2-0)

#4 Cavaliers vs #5 Knicks (Series tied 1-1)

There are lots of exciting matchups in the first round, but it’s safe to say the 4-5 matchup in the West is the eye-opener. After being the number-one team in the West last season, the Phoenix Suns had a relatively disappointing season, falling all the way to fourth this year. Phoenix largely underperformed until they picked up superstar forward Kevin Durant at the trade deadline. Durant is averaging 29 points per game, seven rebounds per game, and five assists per game this season. Since acquiring Durant, the Suns are 8-1 and have been outscoring their opponents by roughly five points per game. 

The Los Angeles Clippers are another team who stumbled their way into the postseason. After having high expectations at the beginning of the year, the Clippers only managed a 44-38 regular season record. What makes them interesting is having their best player Kawhi Leonard back in the playoffs for the first time in two years due to an ACL injury. LA also made a significant move at the trade deadline, acquiring veteran point guard Russell Westbrook. He’s not the MVP he once was, but Westbrook is averaging a respectable sixteen, six, and seven. 

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant also have some history with one another. The two were teammates in Oklahoma City for eight seasons. Both teams are fairly even, but the problem for LA is their leading scorer Paul George expected to miss the entire first round. I think that will be the difference maker, and the Suns will beat the Clippers in six games (4-2).

The most intriguing matchup in the East is the Cavaliers-Knicks series. After missing the playoffs five years in a row, the Cavs are back. They’ve built a solid young core, and brought in one of the best scoring shooting guards in the league, Donovan Mitchell. The beloved New York Knicks are also back. Although they were in the playoffs in 2021, the Knicks haven’t won a playoff series since 2013. 

The difference maker for New York has been point guard Jalen Brunson. After signing a huge contract over the summer, Brunson is averaging a career-high 24 points per game. The problem for Brunson and the Knicks is that they are going up against a top-five defense in the league. The good news is that they have the fourth best offense. This is the definition of a best-on-best matchup, but it’s the playoffs. Defense travels better and means more, and for that reason, the Cavaliers will win in seven games (4-3).

The Suns knock them out in the Western Conference Finals, and advance to the championship series. In the East, I have the Milwaukee Bucks going pretty easily to the Eastern Conference Finals, but facing a hot Boston Celtics team.

The Bucks are seeking revenge, as Boston knocked them out last year. I think they get their revenge, and face off against the Suns in the finals. It will be a close matchup, but Milwaukee will take down Phoenix in seven games, winning their second title in three years.

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2022-2023 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.