Warriors' dominance: a second straight title inevitable?

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 8:04 PM

Their domination of the league this season, coupled with the perception that San Antonio and Cleveland are the only genuine challengers to the Warriors' throne, has cast a feeling of inevitability on this year'south NBA playoffs, which begin Saturday."I just can't think of a scenario in professional basketball, at minimum one that I've lived through, in which a team that's this dominant and this complete on both ends of the floor doesn't finish up doing what it's set out to do," NBATV analyst Brent Barry said this week.

Warriors' dominance: a second straight title inevitable?

The Golden State Warriors plow into the playoffs with a record seventy-three wins below their belt and championship rings already on their fingers.

Their domination of the league this season, coupled with the perception that San Antonio and Cleveland are the only genuine challengers to the Warriors' throne, has cast a feeling of inevitability on this year'south NBA playoffs, which begin Saturday.

"I just can't think of a scenario in professional basketball, at minimum one that I've lived through, in which a team that's this dominant and this complete on both ends of the floor doesn't finish up doing what it's set out to do," NBATV analyst Brent Barry said this week.

The league has long fought a perception that the postseason is too predictable, that the best teams always win. Casual fans point to the incredible drama in the win-or-go-home NCAA tournament as the ideal model and lament the perceived lack of upsets in the NBA with its seven-game playoff series that favor the most talented teams.

But a closer see at recent history reveals plenty of surprises along the way. Latest year'south playoffs were chalky, with the top two seeds in each conference advancing to the conference finals and the top-seeded Warriors beating the Cavaliers — seeded second in the East — in the Finals.

Before that, the sixth-seeded Nets beat No. three Toronto in the Eastern quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Memphis made a running to the Western Conference finals in two thousand-thirteenth and a No. eight seed has beaten a No. one seed in two thousand-twelfth, two thousand eleven and 2007.

LeBron James needs no convincing.

His top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers lost to No. three Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals in two thousand-ninth and No. four Boston in two thousand-tenth, the notorious series that preceded James' exodus to Miami.

"The regular season doesn't imply anything at this point," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said Friday. "We have two months to play our best basketball and compete and obtain it done."

So where'll the drama arrive from this time around? Here are some spots to watch:

LEBRON VS. STAN: The latest person James likely wanted to look in the first circular was Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who's the Pistons back in the playoffs in his second season as coach. Van Gundy also has final declare in the front office and has constructed a team similar to the Magic squad that stunned James' Cavs in two thousand-ninth. James has reached another gear in the mo leading up to the playoffs, but the top-seeded Cavs did go through some coarse patches this season and chemistry continues to be an issue.

CARLISLE'south WIZARDRY: Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is one of the very best in the game, a master tactician who's never afraid to toss out wonky lineups that can befuddle his opponents. He somehow got a Mavericks team full of flaws to the sixth seed in the West, where they open the playoffs against No. three OK City and rookie coach Billy Donovan. Carlisle has J. J. Barea looking love the slippery water bug that helped the Mavericks capture the championship in two thousand-eleventh as a No. three seed.

BIG-GAME DAME: The fifth-seeded Portland Trace Blazers have been one of the biggest surprises in the league this season, turning the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge to San Antonio into an exciting youthful team built around point guard Damian Lillard, who's quickly carved a reputation as one of the league'south best clutch players. They face the fourth-seeded Clippers and Chris Paul, who's suffered many frustrating playoff setbacks in his brilliant career, in the quarterfinals.

GRIT AND GRIND: Nearly number one gives the injury-plagued Grizzlies a chance against No. two San Antonio, which won sixty-seven games this season. But coach Dave Joerger, Tony Allen and Matt Barnes will keep up a fight and might create the Spurs work a tiny harder than anyone expects.

HEAT IS ON: The playoffs obtain their objective share of upsets and surprises in the first round, but they're rarer as the rounds progress. Sitting at No. three in the East, the Miami Heat may be best positioned to create a deep run, with a potential matchup against the second-seeded Raptors, who only have one playoff series triumph in franchise history, looming in the semifinals. And how fun would an Eastern Conference finals between James and the Cavs and Dwyane Wade and the Heat be?

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