Los Angeles Clippers (31-16)
Why they will win the finals: The Clippers faced questions after their meltdown in Bubbles. (You may remember that he took a 3–1 series lead over the Nuggets in the conference semifinals.) Paul George received a lot of criticism for his poor game. This season has had its ups and downs – who hasn’t? – but appears to be in better form. The Clippers are contenders because of Qui Leonard, but George’s footsteps will determine if they are actually capable of winning all of this.
Why they won’t: The Clippers hope Rajon Rondo, whom they acquired at the trade deadline, can provide the kind of leadership they were missing last season. But they still lack depth to the point, and the team has been terrible in clutch situations, dating back to last season’s bubble implants. Championship teams specializes in closing games. The Clippers are not.
Los Angeles Lakers (entry Sunday 29-17)
Why they will win the finals: LeBron James and Anthony Davis can do it together last season while entering the playoffs to lead the Lakers to their first championship since 2010. ) That a team with two of the top players on the planet is a very safe bet to run a championship, no matter the complementary pieces. James and Davis, of course, are back this season – and if they are healthy for the playoffs, watch out.
Why they won’t: James (ankle) and Davis (calf) are not healthy, and this is a very big problem – for now, if not forever. Davis hasn’t played since February 14, and coach Frank Vogel recently said Davis “still has a way.” The Lakers were already struggling without him when James sprained his ankle on March 20. He could be sidelined for at least one more month. At the same time, a host of lesser Lakers have worked with their shooting stroke: Markieff Morris, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Schroder, Mark Gasol. take your pick. Is it air
Phoenix Sun (31-14)
Why they will win the finals: At handsite, the Sun’s nifty footwork was the best move an up-and-coming team could make in acquiring Chris Paul in the off-season. He brought experience, perseverance and defense to a team that was making a big jump – the Suns closed the 2019-20 regular season by being undefeated in the bubble – and allowed Devin Booker to play with the ball. Paul is an 11-year all-star who, at the age of 35, has never played in the NBA Finals. In this topsy-turvy, anything happens, perhaps this is the moment when he finally does it.
Why they won’t: Inexperience. Booker, the team’s best player, has yet to get a taste of the postseason. The reality is that it is asking a young group of a lot of players to push too deep in their first run through the playoffs, even though Paul is guiding the group.
Denver Nuggets (entry 27-18, Sunday)
Why they will win the finals: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray continue to grow and improve, and now the time has come for the team to invest capital. The Nuggets’ front office hinted as much at the trade deadline when it acquired veterans such as Aaron Gordon and Jewell McGhee, who should help improve the team’s middling defense. Gordon also gives the Nuggets another scoring option.
Why they won’t: The Nuggets have been wildly inconsistent this season, and it didn’t help that they lost two valuable role players – Jeremy Grant and Mason Plumley – in free agency. Michael Porter Jr., who has emerged as the team’s third scorer, has plenty of potential but has missed a lot of time and is still evolving.