With the NBA set to return at Walt Disney World Resort near the end of July, here are some predictions for the remainder of the regular season and the postseason:
Bradley Beal Will Go Off
The Wizards, in all honesty, shouldn’t even really be in Disney. They’re 5.5 games behind Orlando for the 8th seed and would have to pull off something special to make the actual playoffs. That being said, Bradley Beal has been spectacular this season. He’s an All-NBA talent averaging 30.5 points per game, second only to James Harden. In November he put up two consecutive 40 point games. He’s an excellent playmaker and scorer, defensive game plans are based on stopping him alone. The Wizards are probably predicted to go 1-7 in the seeding games, but expect that one win to be known as the “Bradley Beal game.”
The Trail Blazers Will Claim the 8-Seed in the West
Portland is the dark horse candidate to make the actual playoffs for several reasons. The return of Jusuf Nurkic will be a good upgrade from Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside being a good rebounder is fine but he doesn’t bring near as much to the table as Nurk does, even with him being out for a year. Another great addition will be Zach Collins. Collins only played three games before going down but he is a young versatile big that is a decent shooter. Lastly, the most important factor for Portland is, as always, Damian Lillard. Lillard has a gym at home and has been working out all quarantine, he’s coming back in shape. He is known for his consistent work ethic and desire to win. Expect Dame to come back with a serious drive to push his team over the edge with scoring, assists, and long range shooting.
The Suns Will Tank
This is another team that really shouldn’t be in Orlando. Their chances of advancing to the real playoffs are abysmally low. This is a team that we all knew going into the season was going to try in the beginning, but ultimately tank towards the end. Ayton and Booker showed some real promise this year, especially with a real point guard in Ricky Rubio, but the smart thing for them would be to avoid injury and get in and out of Disney World healthy.
The Celtics Will Make the Eastern Conference Finals
The Raptors are the only challenger to this team in the East (with the exception of Milwaukee), and, without a certain Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors don’t match up well against Boston. Tatum and Siakam’s stats nearly cancel each other out, Lowry and Kemba are close as well but walker gets the edge here. Beyond that, however, the Raptors have no answer for the defense and scoring of Jaylen Brown, or the playmaking of Gordon Hayward. Granted Nick Nurse is a very creative coach, and will try something cute, but it won’t be enough. Expect the Bucks and Celtics to be in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Photo: (Cole Burston/Canadian Press via Associated Press)