Opponent Each Contender Would Prefer to Avoid in the Postseason
To be the best, you ultimately have to beat the best. Every team, though, has their Achilles heel; that one team that they just struggle against, and would prefer to avoid, if at all possible.
Here is a look at opponents that all of the main contenders would prefer to bypass on their way to an NBA championship.
Golden State Warriors: Houston Rockets
Realistically speaking, were it not for Chris Paul’s injury in last year’s Western Conference finals, it is highly unlikely we would be talking about a Warriors three-peat this season. The Rockets just matchup really well against the Warriors, as they good wing defenders like PJ Tucker and Imam Shumpert to match up with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and also have Clint Capela, an elite rim protector and rebounder. Not to mention, that James Harden raises to preposterous levels against the Warriors.
Denver Nuggets: Utah Jazz
If there is a team that the Nuggets want to avoid in the first round, it is definitely the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are by no means the most talented team in the West, but they have recently had Denver’s number. They have beaten the Nuggets 2 out of 3 times this year and will face them once more in Utah on April 9th. Rudy Gobert gives Jokic a hard time, and Utah’s slow grind-it-out style of play is an awkward fit for the Nuggets high-tempo offense.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Denver Nuggets
Dating back to last season, the Nuggets now have a 5 game winning streak against the Thunder, including a 3-0 advantage this season. The Thunder just can’t seem to figure this team out. Nikola Jokic owns Steven Adams. Jamal Murray finds ways to frustrate and contain Russell Westbrook, and the Nuggets have reliable wing defenders like Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Malik Beasley to throw on Paul George. You can call one of two wins a fluke, but 5 straight wins? The Nuggets have the Thunder’s number.
Houston Rockets: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have gotten the better of the Rockets in 3 of their last 4 meetings and are surely the team Houston would prefer to avoid in the post-season. James Harden and the Thunder obviously have a history, and maybe Harden’s emotions get the better of him when he opposes his old team? Either way, he has struggled against them, while Westbrook has excelled in this particular series.
Milwaukee Bucks: N/A
No team has yet to figure the Bucks out, as they own the season series against all of the major Eastern Conference teams. The Raptors are perhaps best equipped to handle Giannis, with Leonard, Siakam, and Anunoby available at their disposal but the Bucks have beaten them 3 out of 4 times this season. Somwhat surprisingly, the Brooklyn nets actually have the best net rating against the Bucks this year.
Toronto Raptors: Detroit Pistons
I have to admit that I am befuddled by this one. How in the world have the Detroit Pistons managed to defeat the Raptors 4 times this season? Surely it can’t be a coincidence? Sure, Dwane Casey has the inside scoop on the Raptors and their coaching staff, but the Detroit Pistons, really? A part of me thinks, that the Raptors would actually welcome a 1stround series against the Pistons, who on paper, do not offer much of a threat. But another part of me is starting to wonder whether the Pistons are just a bad matchup for the Raptors? I’m really not sure.
Philadelphia 76ers: Boston Celtics
Simply put, the Celtics have gotten in the 76ers heads. From defeating them last year in the playoffs without 2 starters to owning them in the first three meetings this season, it has become mental. Joel Embiid has even admitted this, and his struggles against Al Horford are well documented.
Boston Celtics: Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks own the season series 2-1 and pose the biggest threat to the Celtics, in my opinion. Milwaukee’s length and athleticism is troublesome for the various Celtics players who like penetrating and slashing to the rim. Moreover, the Celtics struggle to guard the three point line, which is a real problem against a Bucks team filled with long-range snipers.