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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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NBA playoffs are here, we have you covered

There are 16 NBA playoff teams vying for a championship. (Nathan Rich)

After a long 82-game regular season, the 2024 NBA Playoffs have finally arrived. Basketball fans across the world rejoice as the most talented basketball teams in the world face off for a chance at competing in the 2024 NBA Finals. With one of the strongest fields of teams in recent memory, this year’s playoffs have all the makings for unforgettable moments and memories. 

With such a star-studded group of teams, these playoffs are going to be hard to predict. Luckily, we are here to help as we’ve broken it all down for you so you know what the hottest storylines are, as well as who is going to come out victorious. If you are as excited about playoff basketball as we are, this guide is surely something you don’t want to miss.

Can the Denver Nuggets repeat?

The Denver Nuggets steamrolled the competition last year on their way to their first NBA championship in franchise history. With superstar center Nikola Jokic and point guard Jamal Murray, the Nuggets return their one-two punch that was so lethal in last year’s playoffs. 

They also return many other key contributors Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Headed into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, they face a tough task in the first round, facing off against the Los Angeles Lakers, who sport their own superstars in Lebron James and Anthony Davis. The Nuggets look to outmuscle the Lakers on their way to back-to-back titles, which would be the first time this has happened since the Golden State Warriors won back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018.

Are the Oklahoma City Thunder too young to compete?

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been arguably the biggest surprise of the season, winning 57 games on their way to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Led by point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has been outstanding averaging 30.1 points per game, the Thunder have looked like one of the most complete teams in the league, in addition to being the hottest. 

They enter the playoffs coming off of five consecutive wins, making them a popular pick to make a run for a championship this season. The biggest concern, however, is their lack of experience. Their top five scorers this season are all 25 years old or younger, and their roster is the youngest in the playoffs this season with an average age of 24.12 years old. With limited playoff experience across the roster, it is fair to speculate whether the Thunder will have the composure to match up with teams that have been here before.

Can anyone in the Eastern Conference slow down the Boston Celtics?

The Boston Celtics have looked nearly unstoppable this season, winning an astounding 64 games this season, 14 games ahead of the second-place New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. 

After coming up just short in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat in game seven a year ago, the Celtics reloaded by adding star 7-foot-2 big man Kristaps Porzingis and guard Jrue Holiday in the offseason. They joined one of the best duos in the league Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to create a team that has dominated opponents all season. This is easily the best Boston Celtics team we’ve seen in recent memory, and it’s hard to believe anybody in the East will be able to stop them from reaching the NBA Finals this year.

Will the Miami Heat be able to continue their postseason heroics?

The Miami Heat has been the team to beat in the Eastern Conference in recent years, with three Eastern Conference Finals appearances and two NBA Finals appearances since 2020. 

Led by superstar Jimmy Butler, the Heat have routinely stepped up when the lights are brightest, locking up opponents on defense and connecting on timely shots. Butler’s success in the playoffs is well-documented now, and the longtime supporting cast of Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, along with their recent acquisition of guard Terry Rozier, should provide them with enough firepower to make another run. 

However, the Heat have their work cut out for them, with another NBA play-in tournament appearance just to get into the playoff bracket. They also will have a tall task early, as their first-round opponent would be either a rematch with the Boston Celtics or a matchup with a dangerous New York Knicks team, assuming they make it out of the play-in tournament. While we’ve learned in recent years never to doubt the Miami Heat, it is fair to wonder if the magic will wear off this postseason with such a difficult road back to the NBA Finals.

Predictions:

Western Conference Finals: Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks

Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Finals Finals: Denver Nuggets vs. Boston Celtics

NBA Finals Champions: Boston Celtics

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