With the season tipping off tonight, this is the final installment of our 2015-16 NBA season where we tackled 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. Today we get to the ultimate question:
Which teams make the playoffs, then who wins the West? Then who wins the NBA Finals?
Here are our staff predictions:
Western Conference Finals: Thunder over Warriors
NBA Finals: Cavaliers over Thunder
As has been said by anyone and everyone trying to project the West, those top five teams could finish in any order and any one of them could make it to the Finals and it wouldn’t be a surprise. However, I think this is the season the Thunder finally stay healthy, I think Billy Donovan makes just enough coaching tweaks to help them, and I like the idea of a team playing with the desperation knowing this could be their final season together. I think Oklahoma City gets back to the NBA Finals, but there runs into the best team in the league and falls to the Cavaliers.
Western Conference Finals: Clippers over Warriors
NBA Finals: Cavaliers over Clippers
Pick any of those top five teams to win the West. I have no idea, really. All five are loaded and capable of winning a title. I went with the Clippers because they’re talented, deep, well-coached and hungry. Yesterday, I was leaning Warriors and then Spurs. Tomorrow, I might pick the Thunder or Rockets.
But I think whoever emerges from the West falls to the Cavs in the Finals. They were absolutely awesome — on the Warriors level (Why didn’t I pick them to repeat? Second-guessing myself already) — with everyone healthy after the trade deadline.
Western Conference Finals: Rockets over Warriors
NBA Finals: Rockets over Cavaliers
Any of the top five teams in the West I could easily see making it to the Finals. The Warriors have to be considered the favorite — they’re coming off a 67-win season and a historic point differential with no major injuries. But I’m going to be bold and make Houston my title pick. I love their depth — they added Ty Lawson
for nothing, James Harden
will have a chip on his shoulder from not winning the MVP award, and he won’t have to dominate the ball as much having a real offensive point guard. Patrick Beverley
and Terrence Jones
are healthy, and Dwight Howard
is in a contract year. There’s a lot of incentive for everybody to make this work, and they have the talent.