With the National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs set to get underway today, many basketball fans across the nation are wondering which team will win it all and raise a championship banner in mid-June. However, in order to accurately predict who will win this year’s championship, people must understand how the NBA playoff system works. There are sixteen teams total in the playoffs from two conferences (the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference). Eight teams are in each conference and the teams are ranked 1-8 based on their regular season record. The first round matchups in each conference are 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, and 4-5 in a best of seven series. The higher seed in each matchup get home court advantage meaning they get to play the first two games at home and if the series went to seven games then they would get to play four games at home and only three games on the road. The team that wins its conference will go on to play the winner of the other conference for the right to be called the 2013 NBA Champions.
The Eastern Conference has a lot of solid teams that can make a deep run but the Miami Heat have set themselves apart from any other team in the Conference and are considered the team to beat in the conference.
The Miami Heat are the reigning NBA champions are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t lose any key players from last year championship team and have actually added one crucial player in shooting guard Ray Allen. Allen has played in the NBA for 16 years and was a two time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics. However, Allen brings much more than just experience, he has the most made three in NBA history with 2, 651 which has given Miami a lethal three point shooter. Junior Austin Deiters agrees that Ray Allen has been a great addition to the heat.
“You already three of the league’s prime time players and now you add one of the best shooter of the game,” Deiters said.
Along with Allen the Heat also have three of this year’s NBA All-stars in Lebron James who averaged 26.8 points per game (ppg) and is arguably the best player in the NBA, Dwayne Wade who averaged 24.7(ppg) and Chris Bosh who averaged 19.5 (ppg) and 8.9 rebounds per game. With these three NBA All-stars and Ray Allen, Miami averaged 102.9 points a game as a team and played suffocating defense only allowed 95.0 points a game. The Heat get home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs they are more likely to win because they had a 37-4 record at home. Senior Ben Martin also believes the Heat will be really hard to beat at home.
“The Heat already have Lebron James who is playing out of his mine but now you have to try to beat him on his home floor. I don’t see that happening,” Martin said.
Overall, the Heat are very talented and matchup very well against any team in the Eastern Conference.
While the Western Conference has a lot of really good teams that have a chance of advancing to the finals the Oklahoma City Thunder are considered the favorite to get there.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are the number one seed in the Western Conference and reigning Western Conference Champions. One thing that sets the Thunder apart from any other team in the Conference is the dynamic duo of point guard Russell Westbrook and small forward Kevin Durant. Dieters also believes these two can be dangerous.
“When these two have got their timing down look out because they can really put up some points and can be a threat” Dieters said.
Durant is a matchup nightmare for any team because he is a 6’9 shooting guard and averaged 26.6. In addition to Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City also has point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook does it all: averaged 19.9 (ppg) 6.9 assist per game, and 4.8 rebounds per game. Another thing that sets the Thunder apart from other teams in the West is the addition of Kevin Martin. With the departure of small forward James Harden, Martin has proved to be a valuable addition on the defensive end. Martin is 6’7 and can match up with anybody on the floor. He has helped the Thunder’s team defense improve so that they only allowed 96.5 points a game. All of these players helped the Thunder get the top seed in the Western Conference.
When it’s all said and done look for the Heat to come out of the Eastern Conference and the Oklahoma City Thunder to come out of the Western Conference.