Two old stars say goodbye, two new-look conferences say hello to NBA playoffs

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer

Nets 76ers Basketball

Chris Szagola | Associated Press

April 11 was the last day of the 2018-2019 NBA regular season. Basketball fans saw all-time greats such as Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki play their last NBA games. After much grief and sorrow seeing those two pillars of the game retire, there is still a tiny glimpse of excitement this season.

The playoffs are different with no LeBron James, no new dominate rookie and a new Eastern Conference. The 2019 NBA playoffs opened a new saga where a new set of challengers could make a Finals appearance instead of the usual Golden State vs. LeBron Dynasty.

The newcomers to watch for are the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers, the loaded Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons out of the Eastern Conference.

In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, the Utah Jazz, and the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to shake things up.

This year has more championship contenders than the previous, and basketball fans love it. Contenders from the East include the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors.

The Western Conference contenders are the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Denver Nuggets and the juggernaut Warriors.

“I feel Golden State is going back to the Finals again,” Hampton University junior Greg Walker said. “As for the East, you could flip a coin between the Raptors and the Bucks. That’s how close it is for me.”

Others also thinks the East is stronger this year but will still lose to whoever comes out the Western Conference.

“I don’t want them to be back in the Finals, but I think Golden State is going make it back,” HU junior Roderick McLean said. “I really want someone to beat GSW, and I hope the Toronto Raptors can do it. Toronto’s my pick.”

While Golden State versus either Toronto or Milwaukee is formidable, the Houston Rockets also have a chance to make it to the Finals. The Rockets are a Western Conference foe with a scorching-hot James Harden, who is averaging 36.1 ppg and is a candidate for Most Valuable Player.

In the East, the 76ers have arguably the best starting five in the NBA with Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and a dominate Joel Embiid, who is averaging 27.5 points per game.

So many different teams cause so many different questions.

Can the Rockets upset the reigning champion Golden State? Can the 76ers sneak into the Finals? Will the East finally beat the West this year? Will there be a new NBA champion?

Questions will all be answered in June, but until then, enjoy the madness of the NBA playoffs.

Jazz Rockets Basketball

Eric Christian Smith | Associated Press

 

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