One of the many NBA Playoff proposals floating around is a re-seeding of the 16 Playoff teams according to their record instead of limiting them to their respective conferences. If that happens, this is what it would look like:
With that idea in mind, what are the juiciest match-ups to come from that new format?
The NBA playoffs is one of the best times of the year for us basketball fans. Even with all the highlights that the regular season can bring, nothing can really match the intensity and the drama of the Playoffs.
It’s right around this time of the year that the Conference Finals should have been rolling through if everything went according to plan. Coincidentally, the Conference Finals is what I’ve always been looking forward to every season for this reason: The bad blood between the top teams in both conferences is much deeper. After all, they are the ones who always went to war with each other during the regular season.
With a new seeding format in the Playoffs being floated around, the 2020 NBA Playoffs will now feature a Final Four scenario instead of the usual conference-based final match-ups.
While that extra “conference rivals” flavor is now diminished in the penultimate battle of the Playoffs, the Final Four setup can still provide two potential matchups that are drama-filled and must-watch basketball.
Here are the two possible dream Final Four scenarios that everyone deserves:
Bucks vs. Clippers
Last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks were poised to take over the league. He was the undisputed league MVP while the Bucks had the best record in the league. Milwaukee made quick work of their early Playoff opponents to be able to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then they met Kawhi Leonard. In six games, the Bucks were sent packing by the eventual champions Toronto Raptors. And in the crucial stretches of the series, the Klaw locked down the Greek Freak and made him look far from his MVP form.
Kawhi became the kryptonite to Giannis’ Superhuman performances. Suddenly, the narrative on Giannis and the Bucks quickly changed. Doubts started to pour in on whether this Giannis-led Bucks team can actually win the championship.
This season, Giannis is still a modern day Superman, flying to the rim with the greatest of ease. He’s even become a better player and turn himself into an even more well-rounded MVP version of himself. The Bucks remain the best team in the league and were expected to finally come out of the East with Kawhi moving out West.
Kawhi, on the other hand, has built his own powerhouse team with the LA Clippers alongside fellow star Paul George. While their team has yet to play a large chunk of games with a fully healthy lineup, they are still considered one of the heavy favorites to win it all.
A Playoffs battle between the two favorites seems inevitable. A rematch between the Klaw and the Greek Freak is a necessity. That is why a Bucks-Clippers matchup in the Final Four will be a treat for us NBA fans, even if it’s taken out of the context of the Eastern Conference Finals.
How will the improved MVP respond against Finals MVP this time? Can the Bucks finally get over the hump? Are the Clippers for real despite their inconsistencies? These are just some the questions that a Clippers-Bucks matchup should answer.
The Bucks and the Clippers will make for quite an entertaining matchup. For starters, it’s going to be a defensive slug fest between the two teams. Milwaukee is the league’s best defensive team, ranking first in defensive rating, defensive efficiency and opponent points allowed in the paint.
The Clippers, on the other hand, possess the league’s best trio of perimeter defenders in Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley. They also have two very versatile defenders in the front court who are both quick on their feet in Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Morris.
While the Bucks rely on their length, the Clippers will have defensive versatility from one through five as their switching abilities are top notch.
Offensively, both teams features a lot of perimeter play. The Bucks likes to shoot a lot of three pointers while also giving space for Giannis to operate inside the paint. The Clippers are a great mid-range and pick and roll team especially when they have three gifted scorers and playmakers in Kawhi, PG and Lou Williams.
The Bucks and the Clippers will be as good a series as it gets. It will feature two top five players and MVP candidates with a growing history in Giannis and Kawhi. Two elite All-Stars in Paul George and Khris Middleton. And a bunch of great veteran players in Beverley, Harrell, Williams, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and Brook Lopez who are sure to bring out the best of each other in this fantasy Final Four matchup.
Lakers vs. Raptors
Remember the last time LeBron James faced the Raptors in the Playoffs? You know, that time when the internet made a mockery out of Toronto after LeBron simply dominated them? The time when “LeBronto” was born. Those were fun times for the Land.
Of course, a lot has changed since then. LeBron now runs the Lake show out West. He is now leading his team to the top of the conference after missing out the Playoffs last season. The Raptors on the other hand are now the defending NBA champs. They have also completely morphed into one of the more dangerous and fun teams to watch this season even with the departure of Kawhi.
While the previous matchups of the LeBron and the Raptors were fairly one-sided, things are going to be massively different this time around if they face each other in the Playoffs.
First off, the Raptors that LeBron faced back then are not the same as this year’s Toronto team. Led by first time All-Star Pascal Siakam, the Raptors are playing some of its best defensive basketball to date ranking first in opponent points allowed (106.5) and second in defensive rating.
The Lakers a tall team, and if there is a defense that could match them, it’s definitely Toronto. A front court trio of Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka — who is having a resurgent season — together with the defensive creativity of Nick Nurse will be problematic for the Lakers offense.
The Raptors are also finding balance in scoring this season as six players are averaging in double figures in points per game. With Siakam and Kyle Lowry leading the charge, they will definitely present an immense challenge against the Lakers.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are playing their best basketball in seven years. LeBron has once again found the fountain of youth, leading the league in assists per game, and is currently in the race for another MVP award. Anthony Davis is playing like the best big man in the game once again. Even with both their superstars playing at a high level, it’s the Lakers’ chemistry has been its ultimate weapon throughout this season.
For three straight years, LeBron going up against the North in the playoffs has always been a fun matchup. And if there is a perfect time and opportunity to run it back, a Final Four matchup between the Lakers and the Raptors is the way to do it.
Maybe this time, the Raptors will finally avenge their previous demise against LeBron and prove that they are the defending champions for a reason. Or maybe, Toronto will always be LeBronto. Here’s to hoping that once the NBA resumes, this dream Final Four matchup will come true.