NBA powerhouses hope to spoil Golden State 3-peat


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Jayson Tatum looks to prove his star status this year.

The past three seasons in the NBA have been dominated by the most winning team in NBA history: the Golden State Warriors. However, several title contenders (and dark horses) have risen to the challenge during the off-season and become fairly sizable threats to the Warriors’ shot at a third straight Larry O’Brien trophy. With the NBA season upon us, here are the top five teams with the greatest odds to dethrone the kings.

  1. Boston Celtics – (last year’s record 55-27)

The Boston Celtics managed to win almost 60 games, have an almost-rookie-of-the-year, and be an almost-Eastern-Conference-champ, all while lacking their superstar guard Kyrie Irving and newly recruited all-star Gordon Hayward during the playoffs. The Celtics look to prove that had they had a healthy team in last year’s playoffs, the 11 point loss to the Cavaliers in last year’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals wouldn’t have happened. With an invigorated and inspired lineup, the Celtics look to take over the East following Lebron’s departure to Los Angeles.

  1. Toronto Raptors – (last year’s record 59-23)

With the highly praised and anticipation of Kawhi Leonard’s return looming, the Toronto Raptors hope to once again be the first seed in the East. The recruit of the perennial all-star and MVP-calibre player will help the Raptors solidify their defense on the perimeter. By touting a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and a rotation of Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Jonas Valanciunas or Greg Monroe at the four and five positions, teams will struggle to even get past the 3-point line against this team. Their wing defense and overall matchup at each position against the Warriors will make them a great threat in a 7-game series, but the Raptors have always struggled against their division rival in Boston.

  1. Houston Rockets – (last year’s record 65-17)

In last season’s Western Conference Finals, Houston was a Chris Paul hamstring injury from beating the Warriors in Game 7 and advancing to the finals; however, they also missed 27 straight 3-pointers in the same game. This season, the Rockets look to prove to the rest of the league that their superstar backcourt of Chris Paul and James Harden can be consistent enough to take the Warriors decisively in a seven-game series; however, the loss of key wing defenders in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and the addition of an abysmal wing defender in Carmelo Anthony make it hard for the Rockets to keep Golden State’s third-quarter flood gates shut. The Rockets held last season’s best regular season record, but the goal of today’s league isn’t to be the best regular season team, it’s to beat the Warriors.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder – (last year’s record 48-34)

Paul George’s decision to re-sign with Oklahoma City ignited hopes in the hearts of the team’s fans. With solid bench additions in Dennis Schröder and Nerlens Noel, the Thunder added solid support to its 3-star starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Nerlens Noel. The Thunder were a top defensive team with Westbrook, Roberson, George and Adams in the lineup. When Roberson got hurt right before last year’s playoffs, the Thunder fell flat against the Utah Jazz in the first round. What a fully-healthy OKC lineup can do in the playoffs remains to be seen. Westbrook and George have always had a “chip-on-their-shoulder” mentality, so look forward to the Oklahoma City all-stars’ playoff push.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers – (last year’s record 52-30)

The 76ers made a shocking playoff run last year, beating the Miami Heat in five games but falling short in the second round to the Celtics in five games. Though it will be hard for Philadelphia to get out of the East by beating one or both of Toronto or Boston, they certainly have the firepower to do so. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons proved that their injury history was just that: history. Both of their healthy seasons last year were all-star caliber; however, the loss of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli might prove to be a sizable obstacle in today’s NBA. The Sixers have always struggled with their 3-point shooting depth, so Simmons and Embiid will have to use their athleticism and versatility to will the team out of the East.