Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
With the playoffs just around the corner in the NBA most people will be crowning LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers as the two teams destine to make it to the NBA Finals, but there are a few teams in both conferences that might be able to surprise some of the best of the best in the postseason.
The Orlando Magic will be the one team in the Eastern Conference that has the best of pulling off the upset against the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Cavs have trouble guarding Dwight Howard in the paint. This was no more apparent than it was in the Eastern Conference finals last season and it might happen again, but the most intriguing march to the NBA Finals will be in the Western Conference.
Almost every single team in the West that will advance to the playoffs this season has the ability to possibly end the Los Angeles Lakers repeat hopes. Obviously right now, Kobe Bryant and company are the team to beat and will almost certainly go far in the playoffs, but there are some teams to keep your eye on headed into the NBA postseason.
Unlike the Eastern Conference, the seeding in the Western Conference could quite possibly go down to the final game of the regular season as there are five teams in the West that could easily move up or down the standing from now to the start of the playoffs.
The one team the defending NBA champions don’t want to face in the playoffs is the Portland Trail Blazers as the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon has proven to be somewhat of the Achilles heel for the Los Angeles Lakers as they really struggled to beat the Blazers on their home floor.
Despite their struggles against the Blazers, if they do manage to face them in the first round, which is looking more and more likely, the Lakers will almost certainly advance to the second round as they are by far the better team right now.
Last season the Lakers faced the always dangerous Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. Much like against the Blazers, the Lakers do have their fair share of struggles against the Jazz, but they made quick work of Deron Williams and company in just five games.
This season on the other hand might be a bit different as the Utah Jazz have been able to completely turnaround their franchise with All-Star caliber forward Carlos Boozer and superstar point guard Deron Williams leading way.
At the beginning of the season, it looked like the Utah Jazz would start to unravel as the team really struggled and the future of Boozer in a Jazz uniform was in serious doubt, but somehow, someway Utah was able to turn things around in the second half of the NBA season and are now sitting at the number two seed in the Western Conference just behind the conference leading Los Angeles Lakers.
Personally, I believe the Los Angeles Lakers are headed for their second straight NBA title as they always seem to turn it on in the playoffs, but I do believe the Utah Jazz can challenge them this time around as they always struggle trying guard Deron Williams who could very well be the key to the Jazz upsetting the Lakers in the playoffs.