Today: Apr 12, 2024

NBA Column (opinion)

Jaylen CarrSports Editor

The NBA postseason starts this week with much anticipation from the players, coaches and fans. The play-in tournament begins this week; the playoffs start on Saturday, April 15. 

I’m intrigued by the exciting matchups we may see in the first round of the playoffs. The surprising team in the NBA this season has been the Sacramento Kings, and they have won their first Pacific Division title since 2003 and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2006.  

The Kings are led by the point guard, De’Aaron Fox, and center Domantas Sabonis. According to ESPN, Sabonis has been the most underrated all season, averaging 19.2 points per game, 12.4 rebounds per game, and 7.3 assists per game. For Sabonis, a center to average over five assists a game is unheard of, but he is the most skilled big man in the NBA, excluding Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets.  

The culture changed in Sacramento when they hired Mike Brown as their head coach in May 2022. Brown has coached great players like Lebron James as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry as an assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors. 

Brown coached the worst team ever to make the NBA Finals, the 2007 Cavaliers. Of course, having Lebron James helps, but coaching matters, especially in the playoffs. Brown should win the NBA Coach of the Year Award this year because he has helped a team of young players play like savvy veterans.  

According to Greta Serrin of the KCRA News (television news station in Sacramento), “Mike has consistently demonstrated his ability to lead winning teams throughout his long and successful coaching career,” Sacramento Kings General Manager Monte McNair said. 

The Kings, in my opinion, probably won’t make it to the NBA Finals, but they probably make it past the first round, which is a significant accomplishment for a team that hasn’t been relevant since 2006. 

   Despite the Denver Nuggets have the top seed in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns should be the favorite to represent the West in the NBA Finals. They have the best scorer in the league in small forward Kevin Durant, and one of the best scorers at shooting guard in Devin Booker.  

They still have future Hall of Famer Chris Paul at point guard, who helps the team with his high IQ and experience. How Paul dictates the pace of games will be pivotal in a best-of-seven series.  

No team can stop the Suns from making the NBA Finals. The Memphis Grizzlies are too young and inexperienced; even though the Los Angeles Lakers have been playing better lately, I don’t think they have enough scoring to match the Suns.  

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, I think, will represent the conference from the East.  

Even though the team hasn’t played well, the Celtics have two all-star players that can finish a game —Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum hasn’t had a tremendous second half of the season, but I don’t think he will be able to get back to first-half self come playoff time. Brown can lead his team but sometimes gets overshadowed by Tatum.  

According to NBC Sports Boston, “The Celtics made it as far as they did last season because of their defense, which arguably was the best in the NBA. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be elite again in 2022-23. Marcus Smart will return to defend his Defensive Player of the Year crown, and Robert Williams will compete for that award as well if he can stay on the court after missing the first month.” 

A Suns versus Celtics matchup will be intriguing because of the star players involved. The Celtics will win the series because they have been together longer than the Suns. Durant was traded to the Suns during the trade deadline back in February. Due to Durant’s late arrival on the team and the injuries he has been through this season, I think the Celtics will win the series in seven games.  

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