With five games remaining, here’s our picks for the teams that will be crowned the 2015-16 champions of the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder are on track to make the Finals, with the Warriors having to play without Kevin Durant for the first time since he was injured in the Western Conference finals.
Durant, who was averaging 26.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists, will miss the next two games, and will be unavailable for the rest of the season.
The Thunder, who are the only team to reach the playoffs in the regular season without Durant, have a chance to win their fourth straight NBA title and seventh in the last eight years.
Golden State Warriors: The Warriors are coming off a championship and have made the Finals in the past five years, but have struggled to reach a conference finals in their five years in the league.
They’re also on the cusp of their sixth consecutive conference finals appearance.
With Durant out, Steph Curry and Draymond Green are expected to be the stars of the show.
However, their star power and experience will be tested, as the Warriors are also expected to play two of the three best players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Kevin Love.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are coming into the season with some questions at the center position, as Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson all missed significant time last season due to injury.
But if they can get the right combination of players and playmakers to help the team make a run in the playoffs, they could be able to make a deep run in a few years.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons have the league’s best record, but it’s the offense that will determine whether they reach the finals.
They’re expected to do it in the West, with Detroit having to deal with a number of injuries, including starting guard Reggie Jackson.
However, Detroit has some serious young talent in the backcourt, including Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock and Andre Drummond.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies have been a bit of a mess since losing Chris Paul to the Boston Celtics.
Memphis will be looking to get back on track with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Milwaukee Bucks: Milwaukee is one of the biggest surprises in the Eastern Conference, and is also expected be able make a playoff run.
If they can continue to improve defensively and put up big wins, the Bucks could make it to the postseason.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans are also coming off of a season where they were the top seed in the East and lost to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
It will be a very difficult challenge for the Pelicans to get a win in the final game of the regular-season and the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers had a very disappointing regular season, finishing the season 12-49 and with the third worst record in the entire league.
They have a lot of questions at point guard, but coach Frank Vogel seems to have some good pieces around him.
Philadelphia 76ers: Coming off a title run with the Cleveland Cavs, the 76ers could easily make the playoffs if they stay healthy.
The 76ers have a very young core that includes Ben Simmons, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, and they could definitely use the help.
Miami Heat: After a disappointing regular-year, Hassan Whiteside is expected to have an incredible season for the Heat, who won their first title in franchise history last season.
However, it’s also been a rough season for Hassan Whitesides, who has been on the bench since March of 2015.
Toronto Raptors: With a solid record last season, the Raptors could be one of this season’s Cinderella stories.
Unfortunately, Toronto has been a mess, losing Lowry, Oka for the season, DeRavs, Biyombo and James Johnson, to name a few.
Atlanta Hawks: Last season was the first year in franchise memory when the Hawks were ranked in the top 10 in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.
This year, it appears the Hawks will be facing a similar situation.
San Antonio Spurs: In what is expected be a good team to watch, the Spurs will look to bounce back from a disappointing season, especially when it comes to defense.
In the last three years, the team has finished with a record of 19-61.
Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers were not expected to reach any kind of finals last season and were just two games out of a playoff spot, but this year they are going to need to find their way into the postseason in order to take the crown.