We are now deep into this year’s NBA Playoffs with both Eastern and Western conferences hosting their respective championships to determine who will meet in the NBA Finals beginning May 31st. This year’s playoffs has given life to many interesting stories. There’s the incredible run of the Boston Celtics (who are currently in the Eastern Conference Finals) led by arguably one of the top two coaches in the NBA in Brad Stevens along with a host of hungry young players eager to make a name for themselves. Many people did not see this run happening seeing as they are without their top two players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. You also have the epic battles of the wild, wild Western Conference where two juggernauts are currently battling for conference supremacy in the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. With all of this commotion happening within the playoffs, there are a few key players who are going to crucial to their team’s success.
It goes without saying, Lebron James is the best basketball player on the planet and he is having arguably one of his best offensive seasons to date as he puts on a clinic each time he steps out on the court. What he has been able to do with his supporting cast up to this point is nothing short of sensational. Many people argue that this year’s Cleveland team resembles the 2006-2007 Cavaliers that Lebron led to an NBA Finals. However, if Lebron James wants to make it to his 8th consecutive final, he will once again have to be the number one player in the world.
Currently, he is facing a tough Boston team led by a coach in Brad Stevens who is showing everyone why is a candidate for Coach of the Year. The young core of the Celtics are also creating a substantial roadblock for the King with the likes of Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and rookie phenom Jayson Tatum who have been on a tear to show the rest of the league that they have arrived. Lebron James has his work cut out for him this year, but if anyone can rise to the task, it’s King James.
James Harden is probably the clear frontrunner for league MVP this year, and with the addition of Chris Paul to his Houston Rockets, they have propelled themselves to the Western Conference Finals for a showdown with the defending NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors. With that said, a lot of pressure is on Harden this year to finally get over that hump and lead his team to not only a Finals berth but a championship as well. Especially after last year’s playoff disaster, Harden has a lot to prove to show everyone that he is capable of leading his team to victory and with Chris Paul at his side along with the rise of a young Clint Capela, the Rockets has proven to be the biggest threat to dethroning the Warriors this year.
While Kevin Durant may be the best player on the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry is probably the most important player on that team. Curry is the engine that gets the team going, and without him, they are not the formidable threat they can be. Curry’s ability to create offense, dribble penetrate into the lane and shoot at will is what drives the Warriors offense, and without it, they are a much different team. We saw this when Steph was out towards the end of the regular season and through the first round of the playoffs.
The fact that Curry can be a shooting threat the second he passes half court is what makes the Golden State Warriors the Golden State Warriors. It creates their offense and forces defenders to worry not only about him but the three other all-stars who are excellent shooters in their own right. Now, Curry when healthy is always ready to play and produce. However, it’s his durability that comes into question. As the saying goes, “the best ability and availability.” So, the Warriors are going to need Curry to be healthy now that they have him back if they want their best chance of knocking off the Houston Rockets and making it to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.