Two words: Isaiah Thomas. The Boston star has made a name for himself in recent weeks, breaking various franchise records across the board. The Celtics have won their last seven games in a row and Thomas’ form has been a key reason for their rise to prominence. If he continues to average 30+ points per game, Boston will be difficult to beat.
But it isn’t just about Thomas of course; the Celtics have a well-rounded roster. Away from home, they’ve been tough to break down and Boston’s 14-10 road record should give them a strong chance of going deep into the playoffs. Watch this space; the Celtics will be there or thereabouts and an 18th NBA championship could be on the cards...
This Houston side is going places and new head coach Mike D’Antoni knows it. With a few bright young talents on the roster, the Rockets have plenty of potential and their time may come in the next two or three years. After a slight blip in recent times, Houston have won two in a row and will look to make it three against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.
James Harden, currently 17/20 to be named regular season MVP, has been on another level for the most part of the campaign; averaging 28.9 points per game. Houston are second to the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division but the Rockets should benefit in the long term from their slightly more difficult regular season schedule...
In years gone by, the Raptors have more or less had everything their own way in the race for supremacy in the Atlantic Division. Unfortunately for them, Boston have stepped up to the plate this season and Toronto just haven’t had an answer thus far. With six defeats in their last 10 outings, the Raptors are on a downward spiral right now.
However, if anyone has the capacity to turn their form around and challenge for glory, it is Toronto. Their 10-2 divisional record gives the Raptors a fantastic chance of climbing back above their rivals in the Atlantic title race and they are still just one win behind despite their torrid run of form. Write them off at your peril; Toronto will bounce back...
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
No Tim Duncan? No problem for the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history and the Spurs will be fine as long as he is at the helm. The likes of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge have chipped in with solid power-scoring in recent months and San Antonio’s unique system always gives them a chance of glory.
With five NBA championships under their belt, the Spurs will believe that a sixth one is due after winning just once since 2007. Their home form has always been solid but, like Boston, their away record gives San Antonio a great chance of going far this year. With 21 road wins, only the Golden State Warriors can match the Spurs’ away record...
Last year, the Cavaliers came from 3-1 down to beat Golden State in one of the craziest and most memorable NBA Finals events of all-time. Cleveland can now push on in the hunt for more success after winning that maiden championship and their potent offense are capable of blowing teams out of the water if they perform at their brilliant best.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have the talent required to lead Cleveland to a second successive NBA title but they will need on the defensive side of the ball. With six wins in their last 10 appearances, the Cavaliers are in great form but their divisional record (4-5) is concerning. They will need to shore up to secure another NBA finals triumph...
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