Can Anyone Stop The Golden State Warriors In The NBA?
It has been an excellent return to the top of the NBA by the Golden State Warriors, as Steve Kerr looks to get the Dubs back to the top of the sport. After winning the NBA Championship in both 2017 and 2018, the franchise endured a time of rebuilding following their 2019 defeat against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals.
However, there is little doubt that they are back on course to challenge for the top prize once again this season.
Warriors Back To Full Strength
The Warriors look extremely hard to oppose in the playoffs this season, and are back up to their full complement, with the return of Klay Thompson. Thompson made his long-awaited return to the team in January after missing both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons with injury issues. His return only highlighted what he brought to the team, as he scored 17 points and three rebounds in a comfortable victory. Steph Curry is also at the top of his game this season, as he has averaged 25.5 points through the regular season. He’s so relaxed during the playoffs that he also had time to have some fun with reporters.
That is a higher average than his career between 2009-21, as he averaged 24.3 points per game. The 34-year-old has once again illustrated throughout the playoff series against the Denver Nuggets that he is the man for the big moment, as he has averaged 27.5 points per game so far. That includes his 33 points in defeat against the Nuggets in Game Four.
Eastern Conference Rivals
It has been a very competitive competition in the Eastern Conference throughout the season, and the biggest danger to the Warriors could come in the East. The Boston Celtics may be at the head of that queue, as they finished the regular season campaign in second overall. However, their game reached new heights in the early stages of the playoffs, as they completed a whitewash victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics will be looking to win the NBA Championship for the 18th time in franchise history, and claim success for the first time since 2008. But, they are currently a leading chance in the sports betting Betway markets at 4/1, as of 26th April.
However, they haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 2010. Last season, they were a leading contender to go far, but the Brooklyn Nets eliminated them at the first hurdle. That defeat led to the dismal of Danny Ainge, and Brad Stevens subsequently replaced him. The new coach has done an excellent job throughout his first season, as the Celtics went 51-31, as they topped the Atlantic Division, and finished second in the Eastern Conference. The ghosts of last season’s first-round defeat were put to bed in the first round, as Twitter went into overdrive as the Celtics swept the Nets.
Western Conference Rivals
It’s worth remembering that the Warriors finished the regular season in third place in the Western Conference. That means that they could yet face a tough challenge to reach the NBA Finals, let alone win it. The Phoenix Suns were the standout side in the West during the regular season, as they were 64-18. That overall record meant that they lost fewer games than any other side in the NBA during the regular season.
The Suns averaged .780, and dominated wherever they were playing, going 32-9 both at home and away. However, they are likely a bigger price in the current betting given that their passage through to the next round is far from assured. Phoenix is finding it challenging to see off the challenge being put down by eighth-seeds New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans levelled the series in game four, before the series moves back to Phoenix for Game five.
The Memphis Grizzlies find themselves in a similar position, as they are also struggling to make their strength in depth count, as they are currently held 2-2 overall in their series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. But, many will believe that they have the quality to overcome the challenge, as they went 56-26 through the regular season.
Who Will Win The NBA Championship?
It’s easy to make a case for the Warriors at this stage, given that they are sitting prettier than most in their first-round series. However, the chief danger in the West could come in the form of the Dallas Mavericks. They ended the regular season in red-hot form going 8-2, and are battling strongly against a talented Utah Jazz in the first round.
They currently hold a 3-2 series lead, but appear to be an excellent value play in the current betting. It may also be hard to write off the defending champions at this stage, as the Milwaukee Bucks have one foot in the second round following their Game four victory over the Chicago Bulls. It is always hard to write off the Bucks given that they have a star many, including Bill Simmonds, believe is being disrespected. But, in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks always have a star to call upon in close games.