Here is a preview of the NBA Season that kicked off on Tuesday Dec. 22
As confetti fell onto the court, the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned NBA champions of the 2020 season and back atop the basketball world. Last NBA season started like any other but ended in Orlando, Florida. Although the atmosphere in the NBA bubble was not what the NBA fans were used to, teams brought vivid motivation with them each night. Fast forward to Dec. 22, after only 72 days, the 2021 NBA season has arrived.
The block is back hot
The Lakers are favorite to repeat as Champions but they will definitely have their hands full this season with different teams re-tooling their rosters, former MVP’s returning from injuries, and others building off the momentum they developed last season. Furthermore, teams have made key acquisitions in free agency; changing head coaches, and picking up key draft picks in the draft. With everyone coming for the crown, the defending champs didn’t let the rest of the NBA out beat them in free agency. They added younger rejuvenated players in free agency to hold on to the crown. With the NBA season having a quick turnaround, a lot of the teams that played late in the bubble may have to rest some of their key players, which gives the younger teams opportunity to take advantage of the quick offseason getting off to hot start.
Full court press
The contenders from last season are still contenders this year but there is no room for error with home court not a factor this season. Yes, the teams will be able to play in home arenas but with limited number of fans allowed in the stands. Along with the NBA cutting 10 games off the schedule, the playoff push will be more intense then it was last season. In addition, the MVP race should be interesting with likes of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry returning from injury helping their teams make the playoffs this year.
Los Angeles Lakers
As the defending champions, the Lakers are looking to go back-back and bring the Los Angeles their 18th NBA championship. The Lakers added key pieces like Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol, and Wesley Matthews while being able to retain Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The rest of the NBA knows what Lebron James and Anthony Davis can bring every night. Where the Lakers could run into problem will be the team chemistry until the players mesh their games together with one another.
Los Angeles Clippers
With the Clippers not making it to the Western Conference Finals nor the NBA Finals last year, the organization decided let go of Coach Doc Rivers and hire Tyronn Lue as their new head coach. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George could not power their team over the hump by losing to the Denver Nuggets after having 3-1 lead in Western Conference Semifinals last year. So with not achieving their goals, the Clippers will be on the hunt this season trying to make it to the WCF or the NBA Finals this year. With Sixth Man of the Year, Montrez Harrell, leaving via free agency, the Clippers were able to add savvy veteran Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, and Luke Kennard.
The Nuggets’ young nucleus showed the NBA that when their backs are against the wall, they will fight. Coming back to win not just one but two playoff series, the Nuggets showed grit and determination. With big man Nikola Jokic being one of the best centers in the league along with upcoming superstar point guard Jamal Murray, the Nuggets are poised to make another run in the playoffs and look to beat out the Lakers to take the West crown.
Teams to keep an eye on
Do not sleep on the Phoenix Suns or the Dallas Mavericks making some noise this season. The Phoenix Suns added 10 time All-Star Chris Paul to their roster along with key veterans to have a great mixture of young talent and veterans to make run at the playoffs this year. The Dallas Mavericks have MVP candidate Luka Doncic leading them into the season this year. With Kristaps Porzingis having to sit out the beginning of the year, a lot will be on the shoulders of Doncic.
Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has won the best individual award the last two seasons but has failed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals or make it to the big dance. Also having the best record during the regular season did not do justice for the Bucks. So adding Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, and D.J. Augustin should give Coach Mike Budenholzer more flexibility during the playoffs to get them over the hump.
When you have a former league MVP, Finals MVP, and six-time All-Star returning from injury, the 1-2 punch of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are poised to contend for a title. Even without their two superstars, the Nets were able to make the playoffs and give opportunities to players last year with KD and Kyrie missing time due to injury. Now let us see if the Nets can assemble this season.
The Celtics did not achieve the ultimate goal last season, falling short of making The NBA Finals. But Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown going through the grind of the playoffs last season will ensure nothing but confidence in both of them going into the 2020-2021 season. With the Celtics adding Tristian Thompson and Jeff Teague to the squad, they should finish in the top three of the Eastern Conference positioning themselves well for the playoffs.
Teams to keep an eye on
The Miami Heat will not go away quietly after representing the Eastern Conference last year in the Finals. Having two rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro playing in last year’s NBA Finals only gives them more confidence and experience that they would not have if the Miami Heat did not make deep playoff run last year. Having Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Goran Dragic all back together again, the Heat will try to repeat the same success they achieved in the bubble. The Toronto Raptors, one year removed as NBA champions, showed that they were not a one-trick pony when Kawhi Leonard led them to the franchise’s first NBA championship. With Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors have three core players that have made The North a team that is not going to be a pushover.
Therefore, with the NBA season tipping-off on the week of Christmas, NBA fans are in for a treat this year. With all the buzz of Lakers trying to repeat, the Los Angeles Clippers trying to be the Kings of LA, the Brooklyn Nets finally having KD and Kyrie Irving back, the Milwaukee Bucks using the fuel of losing in the playoffs early last year, the Golden State Warriors trying to make it back to the playoffs, the Miami Heat proving to the league that the success they had in the bubble was not fluke. The excitement for another NBA season is upon us and all we have to do is sit back and enjoy the show see who makes it to the finish line this year.