As we approach the 2021 NBA Championship, the league seems to have more parity than it has any time in recent memory. More teams seem to be competitive than in past years, and everyone seems to have a shot at winning the Larry O'Brien Trophy. The Gavel's sports section weighs in on who will walk away with the win this season:
Neal Bold: LeBron and the Cavaliers were the 4th seed in 2017 and still made the finals. Of course, the 7th seed is very different from the 4th, especially this year when they could have been knocked out in the play-in tournament. However, seeding in the NBA isn’t really much more than an indication of how good a given team was in the regular season. The Lakers suffered immensely from injuries this year but were a force to be reckoned with when healthy. If the Lakers can stay healthy, no other team in the conference has as much star power besides the Clippers, and I would still take LeBron and AD over Kawhi and PG any day…but I’d also pick KD, Harden, and Kyrie over either of those duos, so I’m predicting that the Nets beat the Lakers in seven, with Kevin Durant winning his third Finals MVP Award.
Prediction: Nets over Lakers in 7
Finals MVP: Kevin Durant
Devin Klein: If Jamal Murray didn’t get injured, the Nuggets would be my pick, but Jokic can’t carry the team alone. I think the Lakers will win because they’re getting healthy when it matters and LeBron can’t be bet against in the playoffs. After the way they looked at the end of the season, I think they’re one of the hottest teams in the league. The Nets are far and away the most talented team, but they’ve had so little consistency in their lineup that they can’t match the Lakers’ continuity dating back to last year. I think Anthony Davis is going to go off in the finals and do most of the Lakers’ scoring, allowing LeBron to coast in the finals. While the two are very closely matched, I think the Lakers pull out the close series.
Prediction: Lakers over Nets in 7
Finals MVP: LeBron James
Jake McNeill: I see the Nets reaching the finals, but it will certainly not be the cakewalk everyone expects of them. As we saw with the Clippers-Nuggets series last season, chemistry often matters more than talent. Just as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard weren’t often on the court together last year, and fell to a less-talented Nuggets team because of it, the Nets will have a hard time integrating their three superstars in big games after they only played eight games together all season. A struggle for ball-dominance between the superstars and a dearth of bench talent means the Nets will likely struggle when they face real competition like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, or Miami. They’ll still make the finals, but they’ll lose to the aforementioned Clippers in a 7-game series. The Clippers look hungry this year, and with Paul George and Kawhi finding their much-needed chemistry, they’ll coast through the West. Rajon Rondo’s role both as a motivator, court general, and sideline coach has proved crucial to the Clippers’ success. In many ways, Rondo is to the Clippers what Chris Paul is to the Suns: even when he doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, he makes his team better. People are too caught up in what the Clippers did in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals to acknowledge what they’re doing here and now. The Nuggets will be the only team in the West to take the Clippers past five games, falling in 6, and The Klaw will crown himself the new King of LA by putting forth a performance for the ages in the finals.
Prediction: Clippers over Nets in 7
Finals MVP: Kawhi Leonard
All predictions were made before the start of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
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