When the Lakers win the NBA Finals, they’re a franchise that never stops, writes Paul Lukas
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has averaged 16.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the playoffs, including a playoff triple-double, and his team is a contender for the NBA title.
LeBron James has been the dominant player for the Cleveland Cavaliers since they won the NBA championship in June, and the Cleveland front office has done a good job of maximizing the team’s potential.
But the Cavaliers also are entering the postseason as a dark horse team that needs to do a lot to improve if they want to contend for the title.
In this series preview, ESPN’s Marc Stein looks at who should be the favorites to win the Finals.
Los Angeles Clippers at Cleveland Cavaliers: A big night in the Staples Center, but the Cavs have a chance to do it with Griffin’s performance.
The Clippers are a good team in the paint, but Griffin has played a big role on the boards in the past two playoff series.
The Cavs, meanwhile, have struggled in the post against a strong front line, and Griffin’s scoring has been limited by a lingering knee injury.
Griffin has scored in double figures in all four of his postseason games.
This series could go the Clippers’ way.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks will be looking for a win in the opening round of the playoffs after going 6-10 in the regular season and 1-5 in the postseason.
Atlanta is still very much in the mix for a top seed in the East, but a loss in this series would put them on the outside looking in.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs., Atlanta Hawks, Staples Center: Griffin, who averaged a team-high 22.3 points in the preseason, is a huge factor in the Hawks’ success.
They have been a dominant force in the NBA for some time, and it will be nice to see Griffin do his part.
The Hawks, on the other hand, are a team that has struggled for the past few seasons.
They are in the midst of a rebuilding process and have struggled to get anything close to a championship.
In addition to Griffin, this series should be a high-scoring affair, with the Hawks going for their fourth win in five games.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Browns: The Browns are looking for their first playoff win in a few years, and this will be a big night for them.
They started the season 3-2 and had a chance for the No. 2 seed in this year’s playoffs, but they have struggled and have fallen short in the early going.
The Browns have struggled against LeBron James, who averages 23.7 points per game.
This should be one of the most competitive games of the postseason, with both teams putting up impressive numbers.
The Cavaliers have played well against James in the playoff series, and I expect Cleveland to come out on top.
The Atlanta Hawks vs., Cleveland Browns, Staples Centre: The Cavaliers are in their best position of the season.
They can play their best basketball of the year, and with Griffin, they have a talented player that is an excellent offensive player.
The Falcons have been in their biggest struggles of the regular seasons, but this is going to be a great test for the Hawks.
Peyton Manning is looking to win his third straight Super Bowl title, but he has never won a championship in his career.
The Broncos are looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but there are a lot of teams that are looking good at the moment.
This is going back to the Super Bowl and Manning needs to win a lot for the Broncos to get the job done.
Golden State Warriors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: The Warriors are in an excellent spot, but it will come down to how they defend Kevin Durant.
The Timberwolves are a very dangerous team and have been to the Finals in three straight years.
It will be tough for the Warriors to win this series, but Kevin Durant needs to play well and be a focal point for the Timberwolves.
This will be the best opportunity to see if he can be the MVP this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors, Staples Arena: The Timberwolves have to play their biggest game of the series, so they are going to have to make a lot more adjustments than they did against the Cavs.
This game will be very physical and a lot will depend on how the Timberwolves react to Kevin Durant in the first quarter.
The Warriors were able to take advantage of a Minnesota defense that was a bit better this year, but Minnesota still has a chance.
The key for the Golden State defense will be their ability to stop Durant.
Durant is the best player in the world and is going up against a great defensive unit, so the Warriors will have to come up with a lot.
Kevin Durant vs. Andre Drummond, Staples Ballroom, Staples Sports Arena: Drummond