Anticipating the Final Stretch

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Five Bold Predictions for Final Month of NBA Season

The NBA regular season is very quickly winding down.

The NBA All-Star break has come and gone, the trade deadline is behind us, and NBA teams are fighting for both playoff and draft positioning. The game’s elite are hoping to overcome the battle of attrition that is the 82-game regular season, while others are hoping to work key players back into the rotation as soon as possible.

Both New York teams still suck.

As there is just one final month remaining in the regular season, we take a look at five bold predictions to cap off the 2016-17 campaign!

5) Denver Nuggets Slip Out of Final Western Playoff Spot

Holding on to the final playoff spot for dear life, the young Nuggets are two games ahead of the Portland Trailblazers and 2.5 games up on the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks have been on a surge of late, led by Dirk Nowitzki and a couple of young pieces around him, the Mavs may just steal the eighth seed from the Nuggets with just 17-games remaining.

It’ll be an interesting final stretch, but the Mavs will complete their turnaround with a playoff berth.

4) Durant, Lowry Make Returns Before Playoffs, Aldridge Out for Season

While LaMarcus Aldridge will not return from his heart condition to help the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, Kyle Lowry and Kevin Durant will make returns to their respective teams with a week to spare before the NBA playoffs commence.

Durant’s return will stabilize the Golden State Warriors and ready them for a championship run, meanwhile Lowry will work himself into the Raptors offence and improve the team greatly as they hope to make another historic playoff run.

3) Heat Beat out Bulls, Bucks for Finals Playoff Spot

Currently 0.5-games back of the Bucks for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and 0.5-games ahead of the confusing Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat have a chance to make a miraculous run to the playoffs. Sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference ladder at the conclusion of the 2016, the Heat have exploded, pun intended, and have won 21 of their past 25 games.

Beating the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), the Houston Rockets, and the Golden State Warriors in the process, the Heat are closing into the eighth and final playoff seed.

2) Russell Westbrook Breaks Big O’s Triple-Double Record

Last night against the Utah Jazz, Russell Westbrook put up yet another triple-double – his 32nd on the season – surpassing Wilt Chamberlain for second most triple-doubles on the season. Only one left is the ‘Big O’ Oscar Robertson who racked up 41 in the 1961-62 season.

Westbrook has 16-games left on the season and will need 10 triple-doubles to surpass Robertson. Westbrook will have to go into full ‘Brodie’ mode to even finish the season averaging a triple-double and you know what? He will do it and break Robertson’s record in the process.

1) LeBron James Wins 5th MVP Award

While it’s easy to fall in love with Russell Westbrook’s numbers or James Harden’s usage in a Mike D’Antoni offence, LeBron James has quietly put up a Most Valuable Player-worthy season of his own. Yes, the Thunder are basement dwellers without Westbrook and the Rockets are lost without Harden, but the Cavs have the most valuable and greatest basketball player in the world who is still at the pinnacle of his career.

Without James on the floor, the Cavs get outscored by an outrageous margin per 100 possessions. When James is a no-go, the Cavs cannot win. Unlike Westbrook, James makes everyone around him better and James makes the right decision more often than not that helps put his team in a spot to win. Meanwhile Westbrook is scoring 58-points and somehow cannot beat the lowly Portland Trailblazers. As for Harden, great as he has been leading the Rockets, what James brings on the defensive end cannot be put on the back burner.

It is time to stop taking James’ greatness for granted. James will earn his fifth M.V.P. award.

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