Anyone who even remotely pays attention to sports over the past three of four years probably knows that the Golden State Warriors are good – really, really good. For the last three years the Warriors has dominated in every imaginable facet of the sport, and nearly broke the record for most wins in a season last year by going 67-15 on their way to a second championship in three seasons. The team and specifically its point guard Stephen Curry have even changed the way modern basketball is played, focusing heavily on three-point shots and in many instances playing without a true center on the court.
In the Eastern Conference, whichever team that has been lucky enough to have LeBron James on its roster has gone to the championship for the past seven years, an absolutely mind-boggling feat, although not the all-time record. Given that both conferences have experienced such domination, the championship has arguably been written in stone before the season starts in recent years.
This year the Warriors and LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers are just as talented, but with roughly a quarter of the 2017-2018 NBA season left, fans of all teams across the league have received a kind of consolation prize. In the West, the Warriors may still be dominant but the Houston Rockets have finally cultivated enough talent to compete with the Warriors win total, setting up a likely Western Conference Championship between the two teams that could actually go either way. With this being said, the race in the West is far from over. The next eight teams in the western standings are all currently within five games of one another, and only time will tell what the final standings will look like given that only six playoff seeds remain after the Warriors and Rockets.
This dogfight of a season has given hope to teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans to end up being seeded much higher than previously anticipated at the beginning of the season, and has created a scenario where literally every game from here on out matters for over half of the western conference. Nearly the same can be said for the eastern conference, with the teams currently holding the third through eighth playoff spot within four games of one another. While the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have been enjoying a steady ride atop the East for some time now, no one would be too surprised to see LeBron and the Cavaliers step up their performance come playoffs in a push to return to the championship.
The competition within the NBA has never been tighter, and as consequence this season has been one of the most exciting and surprising seasons ever to watch for a multitude of teams across the league. Hopefully, the playoffs will bring the same surprise and intensity fans have witnessed during the regular season, with no magic 8 ball or basketball guru able to tell which teams will end up where.