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Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

NBA Playoffs: What Will Happen with the Second Round?

NBA Playoffs: What Will Happen with the Second Round?

With the start of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs, eight teams remain. Despite this, there still isn’t one clear favorite to go on and win the championship. In the West, defending champions, the Denver Nuggets face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves, while the Dallas Mavericks against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Nuggets are one of the most consistent teams in the league, who just handily sent home the Los Angeles Lakers. One of the main reasons for their success isn’t their superstar, Nikola Jokic, but it’s how deep their roster is. Playing as Robin when Jokic is Batman, Jamal Murray is one of the best players in the league to step up for the playoffs as he hit two game-winners against the Lakers during the last series playoffs.

When Jokic and Murray aren’t doing well, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell Pope are a great cushion for their team. As far as their bench goes, they have one of the deepest teams in the league with players such as Christian Braun and Reggie Jackson. This team is the defending champions for a reason and might be at the start of a dynasty.

“I think the Nuggets will win the west because when [Jokic] wants to, it seems like he can score on demand and fourth quarter [Jamal] Murray is just too good,” senior Daniel Thannert said.

The Timberwolves, however, are still a great team. Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are tremendous stars, and Edwards has elevated his game significantly this postseason. However, the one thing that can cause concern is the lack of playoff experience on their roster. Undoubtedly, the Wolves are more talented than the Nuggets, but the Nuggets have the confidence, roster construction and experience over the Wolves. This series will be exciting to watch, and whoever comes out on top has a great chance of winning the championship.

The other two teams in the West are the Mavericks and the Thunder, both teams are driven by young, talented stars. The Thunder is one of the youngest teams in the league, with the top three Most Valuable Player [MVP] candidate Shai Gilgeous Alexander and rookie of the year runner-up, Chet Holmgren. On both ends of the court, the Thunder are extremely talented and have the brightest future in the league. However, in important moments these young stars are still trying to find their footing, and the lack of veteran influence on the team might lead to the end of the Thunder’s season, whether or not it will be against the Mavericks. 

The Mavericks are also a heavy team, with MVP candidate Luka Doncic, and one of the most clutch players of all time, Kyrie Irving. Beyond these two stars, the Mavericks have a significant weakness. On paper their roster is constructed well, but their role players tend to underperform in big moments. Along with this, they don’t have a dominant big man who would be able to match up well against Jokic, Anthony Towns, or Rudy Gobert moving forward. Doncic and Irving are more than enough to win a championship, but at the end of the day, basketball is a team sport, and the Mavericks don’t have enough depth, or enough big men to be the champions. 

Moving onto the East Coast, the Boston Celtics are playing the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers will be playing the New York Knicks.

This season, the Celtics are incredibly dominant, boasting a league-best, 64-18 record. Their stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, paired with a consistent big man in Kristaps Porzingis, alongside one of the best benches in the league are a recipe for success. Tatum is a great young star and is always dominant in the regular season, but during the postseason, his level of play is questionable. Going off of record and roster construction, this team should be the clear favorite to be the champions. However, year after year the Celtics manage to lose to teams that shouldn’t have even come close to beating them. This year may finally be Boston’s breakout year, but the Celtics track record isn’t grounds to be very optimistic about them winning a championship.

Some students at West have faith in the Celtics.

“The first seed Celtics will win the eastern conference finals because of their leader Jason Tatum,” senior Nick Majcher said.

 The Cavaliers have finally won a playoff series without LeBron James. The last time the team made the playoffs without James was 31 years ago. Despite this, they still only have a slim chance to win against the Celtics. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are great, but the Cavaliers don’t really have much else going for them.

The other two teams in the east are the Knicks and the Pacers. Both teams have recently become powerful, with the emergence of the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson and the Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton started off the season strong boasting MVP-like numbers, but ever since the all-star break his production has declined. Although he’s going through a prolonged slump, he is still an undisputed star who leads his team to the playoffs. Even so, the Pacers aren’t a very deep team and managed to get past the Milwaukee Bucks, during the first round, without their two best players. 

As of recently, the Knicks have been phenomenal. They played exceptionally well against the 76ers to advance to the second round of the playoffs, and are Boston’s only real competition in the East. Ever since being traded from the Mavericks, Brunson has been on a tear and is an undisputed superstar. The Knicks have all the weapons and depth to overpower the Pacers, and it would be surprising if the series is close. Whoever wins the East will have a tough time against any remaining Western conference team, and it will certainly be interesting to see who comes out on top. 

Many students have opinions about who will win the playoffs as they keep up with the players and the teams.

“I think that the Timberwolves will win because Edwards is playing really good right now, and if he keeps it up it would be really hard to beat him,” sophomore Drew Przekota said.

Although the Nuggets have a deeper, more experienced and well-rounded team compared to the Wolves, Edwards is a player that can get hot and completely take over the game. Paired with Anthony Towns, Gobert and 6th man of the year Naz Reid, an upset against the Nuggets is something that isn’t unlikely. 

Whoever wins the Nuggets vs Timberwolves series has a high chance of going to the finals to probably compete against Boston. If the Nuggets win back-to-back championships, Jokic will move up on the all-time rankings, and a dynasty is near. If the Wolves win the championship the comparisons of Edwards and Michael Jordan will only continue, and Edwards will finally be looked at as a superstar.

On the other side, if the Celtics win, Tatum will finally get his respect and will prove himself to be a viable number-one option on a championship team. Every remaining team has a lot to prove, and no matter who wins, this is one heck of a playoff year. 

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