By Justin Batiste
Which team has the most pressure entering this years playoffs?
With the playoffs right around the corner, we’re about to see a different style of basketball being played. It’s the playoffs. Everything is amplified. From the players play on the court to the fans in the stands. You don’t have to be a player on the court to recognize that the atmosphere changes once the playoffs come around. It’s obvious. Every team is playing every game like it’s their last, because their season is on the line. The playoffs reveal it all!
If there are two teams that have the most pressure coming into the playoffs it has to be the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors. But which team has the most pressure going into this year’s playoffs? It has to be the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The ceiling for the Raptors is the NBA Finals. However, if they don’t make it it won’t be because they’re not good enough. It’s probably going to be because they were defeated by one of the greatest players of all-time in LeBron James, whose having one of his best seasons as a player, with a team whose pretty good. So, if the Raptors lose to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals it won’t really come to a surprise. Now, if the Raptors go up against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, then they have to make it to the Finals. There’s no question about it. The Celtics are a good team, but at this point the Raptors have to beat anyone who’s not LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Now back to the Thunder. The reason why the Thunder have the most pressure to win in this year’s playoffs is because of how they’ve been playing all year, and because of who’s on their team. Of course, a Finals appearance would exceed expectations for this Thunder team. But a quality season for the Thunder would be a Western Conference appearance or a game 7 in the second round. They’re going to have to play Golden State or Houston in the second round.
The Thunder have been up and down all season with three of the most prominent players in the NBA in Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Although, they’ve been up and down this season. They’ve still manage to beat some quality teams like the Raptors, Warriors, Bucks, etc. and right now they’re positioned sixth in the west.
So, their season hasn’t been all bad. Just not what most expected with players like Westbrook, George and Anthony all on the same team. But since it’s the playoffs these players will be expected to lift their games to another level. The question is will they rise or fall? A first round out, or a non-competitive second round series would be terrible. Also, being that George and Anthony are free agents after this season makes for an even bigger reason for this Thunder to do well come playoff time.