Euro 2020 Special

NBA: Who Do You Got Winning it All?

The 2021 NBA playoffs is all set with the first-ever play-in tournament done and dusted, and this is quite an exciting time for basketball fans.

The Celtics and the Lakers drew first blood and quickly took their seventh spots. But on the other hand, the Wizards and the Grizzlies had to overcome the odds in order to seal their berth.

Before we get into the playoffs, allow SBOTOP to recap what happened around the Association with the latest NBA 2021 updates.

Wizards and Grizzlies grab the final playoff spots

Russell Westbrook taps Bradley Beal during match against the Pacers in NBA
Russell Westbrook taps Bradley Beal during their NBA match

The play-in tournament came out greater than expected despite early criticism as fans were treated with some intense games.

For the Wizards, they were beaten by the Celtics in their first play-in match after a 50-point outburst by Jayson Tatum and they were in danger of missing out the postseason once again.

However, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal shrugged that off and produced one of their best performances when it mattered – combining for 43 points en route to a 142-115 win over the Pacers.

The Pacers came into the game confident after eliminating the 10th-seeded Hornets in dominating fashion. However, the Wizards were simply too good in the second half.

As for the Grizzlies, although they beat the Spurs in the first play-in, not many people backed them to advance upon meeting the Warriors.

The Warriors were fresh from a close loss against the Lakers, but they were still in good shape given that they have MVP candidate Steph Curry on their roster.

The penultimate match between the Warriors and the Grizzlies went down to the wire as they needed an extra period to settle matters. And Ja Morant delivered the knockout blow with back-to-back clutch baskets to sink Golden State.

The Grizzlies are to take on the Jazz in the West, while the Wizards continue to press forward with their late-season turnaround as they’ll try to upset the Sixers in the East.

The Lakers’ repeat bid starts here

Despite ending their regular season campaign in disappointing fashion, the NBA 2021 odds continue to back the Lakers as one of the favourites to win the championship.

After all, they have two top 10 players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis and you can never question the heart of a champion.

Like the Grizzlies, Wizards, and the Celtics, the Lakers had to go through the play-in in order to secure their playoff berth.

The Lakers had to grind their way past the gritty Warriors especially after struggling in the first half. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Dennis Schroder all shot horribly from the field while Steph Curry lit them up with a barrage of threes.

However, the Lakers trio performed much better in the second half as they leaned on to their top-ranked defence. LeBron James eventually put his team ahead with a clutch three late in the final period.

With the Lakers advancing, they are slated to face  the Suns in their first round matchup. Interestingly, this will be the first time that LeBron James meets Chris Paul in a playoff series.

LeBron James-led teams have never lost in the first round. However, the Suns are no joke either with the likes of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton.

Can the Nets and the Clippers live up to their promise?

One can argue that the Nets and the Clippers enter into this postseason with a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders.

Both them have star-laden groups that are capable of winning it all. However, it remains to be seen on how far they can go this term.

The Nets have a Big 3 in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, plus a decent supporting cast. Durant is a two-time Finals MVP, Kyrie Irving has already won an NBA title in 2016, and James Harden has been a consistent staple in the playoffs these past few seasons.

However, they’ve only shared the floor together in eight of their 72 regular season games due to injuries, making chemistry a big question mark for them.

Brooklyn will take on Boston in Round 1 to which they are the favourites, but the Nets cannot afford to be complacent at all.

The same goes for the Clippers as they failed to meet expectations last season, succumbing to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semis after holding a 3-1 lead.

Given how badly Los Angeles choked, the pressure is on them to finally break their curse. Their chase to their first-ever title starts when they’ll square off against the Mavericks in the first round.