By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on March 31, 2014
The 2013-14 NBA regular season is only a few more strides away from the finish line and completion. Teams have just around 10 games remaining before the regular season is over, draft lottery odds are determined, and the 2014 NBA Playoff matchups are set. Of the teams that are looking like they’ll be in the postseason, which are the top 10 contenders for the championship this year?
The Toronto Raptors are one of the biggest surprises of the 2013-14 season, particularly for the way that they’ve performed since trading away Rudy Gay. Though they realistically don’t have much of a shot of taking home a title this season, they have shown they have enough firepower to at least make things interesting in the East.
Though they are currently barely holding onto the eight seed in the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies are a team that always presents a potential threat. Whenever a team can defend at the level that the Grizzlies do on a consistent basis, they can be dangerous in a playoff format.
The Derrick Rose injury probably should have signaled the end for the Chicago Bulls this season, but that’s never been in their plans. With their tenacity and defensive effort, the Bulls have hung tough and are a team that no one should have a desire to face in the postseason. Even being severely depleted, you never know what the Bulls are capable of.
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors quite clearly haven’t lived up to expectations or their potential this season. However, they showed last season that they can be an incredibly tough out when they are clicking on all cylinders. There’s no telling if that’ll happen in the playoffs, but if it does, the rest of the league should be put on notice.
While the Patrick Beverley injury may further complicate things for the Houston Rockets, this team clearly has the talent to make some noise in the postseason. It’s not hard to imagine this team catching fire in the playoffs and going on a serious run. With their talent and potential to get hot, you can’t rule them out by any means.
There probably hasn’t been a longer fall from grace than the one the Indiana Pacers have experienced as of late. With the way they performed to start the year, though, it’s hard to deny the fact that they are going to be in the title picture when the playoffs start shaping up, especially if they are in full form. Indiana has taken a hit, but not one they can’t recover from.
Blake Griffin injury pending, the Los Angeles Clippers are the most realistic dark horse to take the 2014 NBA Championship home. Not only do they have the ever-present Chris Paul, a new head coach with a championship-pedigree in Doc Rivers, and an improved supporting cast, but they also have a Griffin who—when healthy—has been at near-MVP levels this year. It’s impossible to discount this team.
Some people might actually consider the Oklahoma City Thunder the favorites to win the title this year. Given the way that Kevin Durant has played this season and how good they can be with Russell Westbrook healthy, it’s hard to deny their claim to that title. However, until they find some kind of consistent production from their role players, I can’t put them at number one.
Riding their recent winning streak, it’s hard to ignore that the San Antonio Spurs seem poised to make it to the Finals for the second straight year. They’ve re-invented themselves with a more offensive identity and the results have been obviously positive. With how they’re playing coming into the postseason, they have to be among the top contenders.
Though they haven’t been that impressive as of late, it’s the Miami Heat until it’s the Miami Heat no longer as the favorites. That may seem like a cop-out, but we’ve seen in recent years that this team always saves an extra gear for the postseason and this year shouldn’t be an exception. They may not look like it yet, but the Heat are still the favorites to hoist the trophy at the end of the playoffs.
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