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National Basketball Association playoffs 2019: Ranking the challengers to the Warriors

17 April 2019
National Basketball Association playoffs 2019: Ranking the challengers to the Warriors

Denver defeated Golden State in their first meeting back in October but lost the remaining three regular season games, with the Warriors overtaking the early pacesetters to finish atop the West.

But the fact still remains that if the Thunder win, Golden State will not play them.

Series' are played in a 2-2-1-1 format which means that the team with the home court advantage (whoever is seeded higher) hosts games 1,2,5 and 7 while the away side hosting 3,4 and 6.

That's a really good omen for the Bucks.

Mike Budenholzer will likely deploy Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton a lot more in the postseason than he did in the regular season and the undersized Pistons guards might have trouble staying in front of those two guys.

ORACLE SHINES AGAIN: The Warriors said a ceremonial farewell to Oracle in their final regular-season home game April 7.

Remember the weird general manager search two summer's ago that ended up with the hiring of in-house candidate Jon Horst?

The only National Basketball Association title for the Bucks came in 1971, but Antetokounmpo makes it possible for them to chase another one. Here's a little recap of how that new system has fared this season. The Clippers, on the other hand, will be squaring off with the Utah Jazz who now hold the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. That is, of course, winning a playoff series. This matchup features some of the most electrifying talents in the playoffs, and there are also some interesting matchup details. Not to mention the pressure that comes with being the number one overall seed. This month's honor marks the fifth time he's won Player of the Month in his career. The Bucks will need other contributors, too, as opposing teams will focus on finding ways to stop, or at least slow down, the explosive Antetokounmpo. On paper, they are title favorites having finished the season with the top-scoring margin in the league with the ability to run the floor and score the ball from anywhere. Giannis Antetokounmpo should be able to dominate his way to his first appearance past the first round.

A starting line-up of five All-Stars, two of whom are former recipients of the Most Valuable Player Award, was just too much. For the Greek Freak to get to that next level, he needs to put the Bucks on his back and take them to the NBA Finals.

It's the start of postseason that looks different far beyond just the absence of James for the first time since 2005. In his record 21 seasons with the Mavericks, he led the team to 15 playoff appearances and its first and only National Basketball Association championship in the franchise history in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Bucks brought in Pau Gasol to provide more depth in the front court. All of those teams, however, will have to survive tough matchups in the opening round. Everyone has been waiting on them to flip the switch and turn into the contender they're supposed to be.

At the age of 34, James proved that he is still one of the best players on the planet, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists this season. Griffin, who is nursing a sore knee, will have a tall order going up against Giannis and the Bucks' stingy defense. Pistons center Andre Drummond was a force on the glass and at the rim.

The river in downtown Milwaukee has been turned green - on objective.

For the eighth time this season, Harden scored 50 plus points to win the game.

With LeBron James sitting out the playoffs for the first time in as long as anyone can remember, the NBA has a problem on its hands: Which team are they going to showcase to a national audience to prevent folks from spending their weekends watching The Masters?

That said, Russell is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, and what he does in the playoffs could determine just how deep the Nets are willing to go into their pockets to keep the young star in Brooklyn. All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and forward Aaron Gordon helped power the Magic to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.