Photo credit: Milwaukee Bucks/Instagram, Phoenix Suns/Instagram, Atlanta Hawks/Instagram, LA Clippers/Instagram
Would you believe that we’re almost at the end of this season? Sixteen teams entered the 2021 NBA Playoffs and now we’re down to the surviving foursome who still have the chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this year.
Your final four are the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns from the West, and the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks in the East.
We bet not a lot of fans expected that at the beginning of the season, huh?
Obviously, the dream Finals match-up that people talked about the most was between superteams Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. We all now know that ain’t happening anytime soon. Better luck next year!
This just speaks to the high level of competition in this year’s league. The favorites went down, while the neophytes took over.
So, what are our thoughts about each team?
Photo credit: Milwaukee Bucks/Twitter
Let’s start with the Bucks. They definitely have the right people who will help them make it far this season. However, not a lot of pundits had them pegged to reach this point. They’ve basically choked in the last two postseasons, while head coach Mike Budenholzer’s job security is actually hanging in the balance as we speak.
Despite being the higher seed in the first round, there were some pundits who actually believed they were in trouble against the Miami Heat. After all, they got swept by the same team last year. But Giannis and company showed they’re not the same old Bucks.
They returned the favor and swept the reigning Eastern Conference Champions. The Bucks were expected to be stopped in the tracks in the next round, as they faced the title favorites Nets. The series was so highly competitive and even stretched the full seven games!
Sure, Brooklyn was hampered by injuries but it’s still no easy feat to defeat a team with arguably one of the best pure scorers and clutch performers of all time, Kevin Durant. Are the Bucks for real this time around?
READ: The Bucks’ comeback is real, Kyrie Irving left injured
Photo credit: NBA/website
The Hawks had quite a journey of their own. There was even a time early in the season when the Hawks were well outside the playoff picture. How times have changed. Nate McMillan turned that franchise around after assuming the head coaching position.
However, not a lot of pundits gave the Hawks the respect they deserve. Most even believed that New York would eliminate them in the first round! (Sorry na, Trae Young for doubting you!)
They took on the top team in the East in the second round, and many believed that’s how far they’ll go. Atlanta proved us wrong once more. They love doing that, huh?
Young flipped the script after struggling early in Game 7 and showed up when it mattered the most. Now, they’re the underdogs again versus the Bucks. What’s new, right? Still, let’s not be surprised this time around if the Hawks can pull off another shocker.
READ: Show some respect for Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks
Photo credit: NBA/website
Moving on to the West side of things, a lot of pundits felt bad for the Suns in the first round. The narrative was, they secured the second-best record in the West only to face the reigning champs Lakers in the first round.
Chris Paul even dealt with some shoulder issues, and fans were already writing the Suns off after going down 2-1. Turns out, Game 3 was the last game the Lakers would win.
The Lakers had injury problems of their own concerning Anthony Davis, but kudos to the Suns for not messing around and taking them out. Phoenix even made an even bigger statement come the second round.
They swept the MVP Nikola Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets in four games lang naman. Maliit na bagay.
While the other teams played in gruelling Game 7s, the Suns had time to rest and comfortably waited in the wings. Sarap ng buhay.
Plus, Devin Booker hasn’t looked like a playoff noob at all and is dominating so far. Are the Suns the team to beat now?
READ: 2009-2010: Remembering the last time the Suns made it to the playoffs
Photo credit: LA Clippers/Twitter
On paper, the Clippers may have one of the most star-studded lineups this season. Their rise to the WCF should be expected, right? But then again, it’s the Clippers. The misfortunes that come with the franchise over the years is well documented.
But not this year. The Clippers made it to their first conference finals in history. A lot of people were already trolling the team after losing the first two games against the Mavericks in the first round. The Clippers eventually clawed back and won the series in seven games.
The same thing happened against the Jazz, where they also fell 2-0. Same old, same old, as the Clips fought back and won it in six. They’re now the first team in history to climb back from a 2-0 deficit twice in one playoff run.
Here’s a fun fact: There are only three remaining players in the playoffs with a championship in their resume. Kawhi Leonard, Rajon Rondo, and Serge Ibaka. Yup, all of them are Clipper players. Sadly, Ibaka is done for the season, while Leonard and Rondo are still trying to get back from injuries of their own.
Still, do you think the Clippers have what it takes?
READ: The home team finally wins! The NBA Clippers-Mavs series
Now that you’ve reviewed all the remaining teams, who will you be rooting for now?