Finally, some consistent sports action to occupy our winter weekday nights with.
The 2020-21 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with a pair of games featuring some of the game’s very best as the Brooklyn Nets host the Golden State Warriors before the battle of Los Angeles between the Clippers and defending-champion Lakers.
A 72-game season was effectively put together despite the spiking COVID-19 pandemic, assuring a relatively normal season with the exception of two extra playoff spots per conference, prompting a four-team play-in round to get to the more traditional group of eight postseason sides.
Compared to what the NHL is going through — a 56-game season with four strict geographic divisions that see teams exclusively play the others in their group — and MLB potentially pushing back the start of the season as we wait for the proper distribution of the vaccine, the NBA looks virtually unchanged.
In the case of the competitive landscape of the league, not much has changed in terms of which teams are the strongest.
The Eastern Conference has the Brooklyn Nets’ superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving finally coming together to challenge the likes of Giannis Antentokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat, and Jayson Tatum’s Boston Celtics for supremacy.
In Philadelphia, the 76ers will have plenty to prove, too, as new head coach Doc Rivers attempts to mentor the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid toward the high expectations many had of them last year.
In the West, the Lakers are still considered the class of the NBA, though the Clippers and Denver Nuggets will have plenty to say.
One of the largest changes we’ve seen is the dissolving of the Houston Rockets, which suddenly has them on the cusp of the postseason conversation rather than them being foregone participants like they’ve so often been in recent years.
After dismissing head coach Mike D’Antoni and parting ways with GM Daryl Morey — who is now the president of basketball ops for the 76ers — the Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall while James Harden continues to push for a ticket out of Houston.
While the West features some of the game’s largest and most established names ranging from LeBron James to Kawhi Leonard, to Anthony Davis, to Damian Lillard, basketball fans will keep a close eye on the continuing development of the kids — most notably Zion Williamson with the New Orleans Pelicans and Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies.
If basketball needs one thing, it’s parity. And while teams wait for their young talent to develop in an attempt to chase down the super teams, we could see much of the same in 2020-21.
Here is how Metro thinks the new NBA season will pan out including final standings, playoffs, a champion, and individual awards:
Eastern Conference standings predictions
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Brooklyn Nets
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Indiana Pacers
- Atlanta Hawks
- Washington Wizards
- Orlando Magic
- Chicago Bulls
- Charlotte Hornets
- New York Knicks
- Detroit Pistons
- Cleveland Cavaliers
Eastern Conference playoff results
No. 7 Pacers def. No. 10 Magic
No. 8 Hawks def. No. 9 Wizards
No. 1 Bucks def. No. 8 Hawks
No. 2 Nets def. No. 7 Pacers
No. 3 Celtics def. No. 6 Raptors
No. 5 76ers def. No. 4 Heat
Bucks def. 76ers
Nets def. Celtics
Nets def. Bucks
Western Conference standings predictions
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
- Utah Jazz
- Dallas Mavericks
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Golden State Warriors
- Phoenix Suns
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Memphis Grizzlies
Western Conference playoff results
No. 7 Warriors def. No. 10 Grizzlies
No. 9 Pelicans def. No. 8 Suns
No. 1 Lakers def. No. 9 Pelicans
No. 2 Clippers def. No. 7 Warriors
No. 3 Nuggets def. No. 6 Blazers
No. 4 Jazz def. No. 5 Mavericks
Lakers def. Jazz
Clippers def. Nuggets
Lakers def. Clippers
Lakers def. Nets
2021 NBA MVP
Luka Doncic- Dallas Mavericks
Rookie of the Year
LaMelo Ball- Charlotte Hornets
Defensive Player of the Year
Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers
Sixth Man of the Year
Carmelo Anthony- Portland Trail Blazers
Most Improved Player
Markelle Fultz- Orlando Magic