Speed Reads

toss up

Is the NBA on the verge of playoff chaos?

The NBA may be headed toward an unusually unpredictable slate of conference finals games this postseason.

The Kevin Durant-led Brooklyn Nets have been the favorite to take home the title most of the year, and they're still standing, but they're facing elimination in a Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Easter Conference semifinals on Saturday night. The other Eastern conference series, a back-and-forth affair between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers, will also require a decisive seventh game. Meanwhile, in the Western Conference finals, the upstart Phoenix Suns will face the Los Angeles Clippers, and both teams may be without their respective superstars Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard, making what was already likely to be a competitive series even more of a toss up.

A Brooklyn title run still feels like the safe bet, but if Milwaukee upsets the superstar-laden squad on the road Saturday, the remaining field will be wide open. Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Los Angeles are excellent teams that have championship aspirations, but they're evenly matched and any potential Finals combination seems plausible. 

Regardless of the outcome, though, the league will get some fresh faces in the Finals. Phoenix hasn't been to the big stage since 1993 and has never won a title, the Clippers have never even won their conference, and Milwaukee and Philadelphia haven't won a championship since 1971 and 1983, respectively. The Nets also don't have an NBA title, and the last time they made the Finals they were still playing in New Jersey. The Hawks won all the back in 1958, when they played in St. Louis.