The Golden State Warriors are poised to repeat as NBA Champs, and the sports nation is buzzing with conversations regarding their run at breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-10 regular season record. Is there any team that can slow down the Warriors? Will LeBron and the Cavs fall short or will the another team emerge from the Eastern Conference? Which player will hoist the 2016 NBA Finals MVP trophy? So many questions, but only a short list of teams capable of deciding the outcome. Have no fear, because here at Sports Unbiased, our writing crew is here to narrow the options.
The NBA team here at Sports Unbiased is once again up to the challenge of answering the difficult questions surrounding the outcome of the 2016 postseason and NBA finals.
Jr. Williams, Kyle Curry, and Ben Buchanan weigh in with their team and player predictions. Each writer provided their votes without influence or contact from other staff members . The results were tallied and the consensus was determined.
Below you will see which team each writer picked followed by the overall Sports Unbiased consensus pick. As an added bonus, we have allowed you the ability to weigh in through the use of fan polls. Each category will have a poll and a national consensus when that poll closes. Check the results, voice your opinion, and make your picks. Let’s see who got it right and who got it wrong over the coming months. We begin with the east and west division winner predictions. Don’t forget to cast your vote in all the polls to help determine the national consensus.
2016 Eastern Conference Division Winners and Conference Champs
Below you will find a table with the staff picks. According to the table below, you will see overwhelming majorities or even 100 percent agreement among writers who selected teams in the Atlantic and Southeast divisions. The writers believe the Raptors and Hawks are all but locks to win the Atlantic and Southeast. It was also an unanimous decision for the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the Central Division. Check out which team the writers picked to clinch the 2016 Eastern Conference title, also included is an explanation as to why each writer made their selections. Be sure to cast your vote below.
Atlantic Division Winner
Ben Buchanan – The Toronto Raptors have built up a sizable lead over the Boston Celtics, at six games behind, it would be hard to imagine the Celtics overcoming the Raptors for the Atlantic crown. The Raptors have played very well this year, placing top 10 in both Offensive & Defensive efficiency. After a back and forth win over the Cleveland Cavilers on Friday night, it should be clear that the Raptors are a top tier team in the NBA. If Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue their high level of play, the Raptors should be destined to win the Atlantic.
Jr. Williams – Hard for me to pick against Toronto as they have had a strong hold on the Atlantic Conference for the past few seasons. I know Raptors fans are getting sick and tired of people predicting/jinxing their their team to advance deep into the playoffs, however, I am quite convinced that this postseason the Raptors will play some of the best basketball of their careers. I also believe a healthy DeMarre Carroll provides a defensive edge and toughness to a Raptors team in dire need of a gritty character. Keep in mind we’re talking about a team that defeated Cleveland and exchanged blows with the Golden State Warriors. Ultimately, I think this team is the deadliest group of players in the east.
Central Division Winner
Ben Buchanan – No question here in my mind. The Cavs reside 1st place in the east currently, and have a comfortable 11 game lead in the Central division. Their next closest competition is the Indiana Pacers, it would be tough to envision a scenario in which the Cavs don’t win the Central division barring a major injury. At this point, I don’t believe anybody can catch up to LeBron James and co.
Jr. Williams – The Cavaliers are ahead of the Raptors by only a few games, whats even more frightening is at least half of their remaining games are against teams with a winning record of at least .500, so the Cavs shouldn’t exactly take their foot off the pedal because a lot of teams will be gunning for them. Overall, picking the Cavs to clinch the Central division is a safe bet as long as LeBron James is in uniform, however, the pressure rest on the shoulders of the head coach.
Southeast Division Winner
Ben Buchanan – It may come down to a tight race for the Southeast division, mostly between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, but don’t rule out the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards as they are only 2 & 4 games back respectively. Out of this group, the Hawks make the best case for a consistent case to finish out the regular season on a hot streak. They have talented stars such as Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver who can put up points in a hurry, just a year ago basically the same core took home 1st seed in the East. The Hawks have a foot up in the race for the Southeast in my opinion, for reason such as a talented core and good health, though it should be a tight race.
Jr. Williams – The Miami Heat are my sleeper team to come out of the Southeast division. Since adding veteran shooter Joe Johnson to the team, the Heat have improved their ability to stretch the floor, as Johnson has already proved his ability to knock down the three ball. I agree that the southeast will be a close race, and the Hawks will certainly make the Heat earn their slot, but I think the Heat have far too many weapons– enough to beat any team in the east. Ben, you mentioned health and probably eluding to Chris Bosh being out for the season, however, I think his absence could be a blessing in disguise for players like Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside, as this could be the time where they shine even brighter.
2016 NBA Eastern Conference Title Winner
Ben Buchanan – This race may be a lot closer than many people think, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been 1st seed in the Eastern Conference for the entire year, but the Toronto Raptors have been catching traction in recent weeks. The Raptors have proved they can legitimately play the with Cavs, just look at their win that was down to the wire, a game where Kyle Lowry just took over.
The Raptors have been a very efficient team so far this year, but you have to wonder if they’d be able to keep up in a 7 game series, in which case I’d say the Cavs likely have an advantage, with many above average role players such as: Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpurt, J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, etc.. It’ll be close, but for now I’d say the Cleveland Cavilers will edge out the rest of the east and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Kyle Curry – Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs will travel back to the Finals for the second year in a row behind the leadership of LeBron James. The reason why is it’s difficult to bet against a LeBron lead team in the East. The Eastern Conference is a lot less competitive than the Western and that is because outside of the Cavaliers, the Bulls and the Hawks have the most talent on their teams and even they are the 8th and 5th seed respectively. Outside of LeBron, Kyrie is arguably a top-3 point guard in the league, Kevin Love is starting to play better under Tyrone Lue and he could match up against really anyone playing the two through fove position.
Jr. Williams – No disagreement here fellas. I think the Cavs are primed for another trip to the finals, and this time they should have a healthier roster with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on par to continue through the postseason. The question of the day is whether or not Kevin Love will be a factor, because his role could essentially diminish if he doesn’t start earning that hefty salary. If the Cavs were to face the Warriors again in the NBA finals, I think the match-up would favor Draymond Green because of his ability to impact virtually every facet of the game. Love hasn’t proven to me that he’s willing to do the grimy work, and that could affect his playing time as Tristan Thompson has proven his ability to get his hands dirty.
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