Well, the season has been suspended indefinitely and it looks as if the season would go right into the playoffs if the NBA resumes play. That means that the seedings and teams are set in stone.
We will have the normal playoff format but what would the result be if there were no conferences? In this article, we look at what a potential 16-seed playoff format would hold and what a potential outcome would be.
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (16) Orlando Magic
The Milwaukee Bucks have asserted their dominance in the league and are currently in the midst of one of the greatest regular seasons in NBA history. Led by the historic play from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have the best record in the league and are a team that many expect to go far in the playoffs. Looking at the rest of the roster, they have another all-star in Khris Middleton and a plethora of veterans who know their role.
Speaking more on Khris Middleton, he has established himself as one of the best small forwards in the league after his play this season. With back-to-back all-star seasons now under his belt, Middleton looks to only be getting better and his play could take another leap in the playoffs.
Looking at the Orlando Magic, after a disastrous start to the season, they know sit firmly as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Behind the play of Nikola Vucevic and the improvements by Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Issac, the Magic have saved what looked to be a lost season.
Looking at the rest of their roster, the most disappointing player on the team has been Aaron Gordon. After an impressive season last year, many thought that Gordon would finally take that next step and turn into an all-star player. Now, after a pretty underwhelming season, it looks as if the Magic will look to move him in the offseason.
With all of that being said, the Magic stand no chance in this potential series and the Bucks would demolish this team.
Result: Bucks in 4
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (15) Brooklyn Nets
After an eventful offseason, it is no surprise as to why the Lakers have been so dominant this season. With the addition of Anthony Davis alongside LeBron James, the Lakers are sitting pretty as the 1st seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers have overcome a lot of injuries to key players this season and have fought hard to get to the point that they are at now. With the best player in the world and a Defensive Player of the Year candidate as their 1-2 punch, anything is possible for this team and they currently look like the favorites to win the title.
The Brooklyn Nets are another team that had a very eventful offseason as they were able to land superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. KD is not expected to return this season and Kyrie Irving has dealt with many injuries this season. With those two sidelined, the Nets have had players in Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert who have been able to somewhat keep the team afloat.
With all that being said, in the playoffs, LeBron James is a different animal and it doesn’t look like anyone will be able to contain him. With a 27-point scorer and a nice supporting cast around him, this Lakers team will go very far.
Result: Lakers in 5
(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (14) Memphis Grizzlies
The defending champion Toronto Raptors have surprised a lot of people with their play. After the departure of Kawhi Leonard, many thought this team would take a step back, but they are in fact playing better than they did last season. Backed by the play from all-stars Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, this team is the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference and will cause havoc in the playoffs.
The Memphis Grizzlies, after essentially going into a rebuild, have kept that “grit-and-grind” playstyle around and see themselves firmly as the 8th seed of the Western Conference. Ja Morant looks as if he is going to be a top point guard for a long time in this league and will win the Rookie of the Year award. Combine that with the great young core that they have, and this team should be great for a very long time.
The difference in this series is certainly the experience and depth that the Raptors possess. All in all, the Grizzlies really stand no chance in this series and this will be a quick one.
Result: Raptors in 4
(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (13) Dallas Mavericks
The Clippers are one of many teams that had an amazing offseason. Not only were they able to land the reigning Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard but, they were able to trade for Paul George too. This duo has not played much this year due to injuries, but they still sit as the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. Despite everything that has gone wrong with them, they have still stuck afloat, and this alone may be the scariest part about them.
The Dallas Mavericks were a team that not many expected to contend for a playoff spot. Backed behind the exceptional play from Luka Doncic, coupled with Kristaps Porzingis’s improved play, this team currently sits as the 7th seed in the Western Conference. The Mavericks have one of the best young cores in the league and they look to be a perennial playoff team for the foreseeable future.
With all that being said, inexperience may be seen by the Mavericks in the playoffs and the Clippers just have too much firepower.
Result: Clippers in 5
(5) Boston Celtics vs. (12) Philadelphia Sixers
Coming into the season, I don’t think many people saw the Celtics as LEGIT title contenders. Not only has all-star point guard Kemba Walker played well but, they have gotten much-improved play from their wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. This Big-3 surrounded by their supporting cast has them sitting pretty as the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference and now, they look like a team that will go very far in the playoffs.
The Philadelphia 76ers were a team that many expected to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA finals. After an eventful offseason that saw them construct their play solely to beat Giannis and the Bucks, many expected them to cruise through the Eastern Conference and dominate the opposition in the playoffs. Now, this team has yet to find an identity and the fit between their best players is highly questionable. It would be surprising if this team were to make it out of the first round and, in this upcoming offseason, they will have a lot of huge decisions to make.
All in all, the Celtics high octane offense may be too much for the Sixers to handle and couple this with the Sixers’ many struggles and there looks to be no reason as to why the Celtics lose this series.
Result: Celtics in 6
(6) Denver Nuggets vs. (11) Indiana Pacers
The Denver Nuggets have established themselves as one of the best teams in the league over the past few seasons and look to be a perennial playoff team. Backed by the play of Nikola Jokic and their supporting cast, they sit as the 3rd seed in the Western Conference and could make a deep run if both Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray can take that next step.
Heading into the season, the Pacers were seen as a sleeper team to make it out of the East. After acquiring Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren, many looked at this team as one of, in not the, deepest team in the Eastern Conference. With Victor Oladipo recently coming back from a yearlong injury, this team has struggled, and this team doesn’t look as good as they once were.
All in all, the Nuggets have better depth and are just all-around a better team. Unless Oladipo turns back into his former self, the Pacers are going to have a hard time keeping up with the Nuggets.
Result: Nuggets in 6
(7) Utah Jazz vs. (10) Houston Rockets
The Jazz was another team that people thought could contend for a championship this season. Despite their great record, this season for them has been filled with inconsistent play by them. After acquiring Mike Conley via trade, many thought he would be the piece that puts them over the hump. So far this season though, he has been nothing short of disappointing and they probably would have been better off re-signing Ricky Rubio. This team can still do great things in the playoffs if there is one, but they are going to have to pick up their play.
The Houston Rockets have had an interesting season thus far. They traded away their only playable center at the trade deadline and thus created a small-ball starting lineup. This experiment has done okay so far but, in the long run, it looks to be something that will hold them back from winning a championship.
In a potential series, the Rockets’ star power will be the deciding factor and if Russell Westbrook and James Harden continue to put up great numbers, this team will go very far.
Result: Rockets in 6
(8) Miami Heat vs. (9) Oklahoma City Thunder
The Miami Heat are another team that has surprised many this season. With the acquisition of Jimmy Butler and the improved play of Bam Adebayo, this team has shut up a lot of critics and currently sits as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite their play falling off a bit, they are a team that I expect to wreak havoc in the playoffs.
The Thunder have been the most surprising team this season. After an offseason that saw them trade away both Paul George and Russell Westbrook for draft compensation, many expected this team to bottom out and go into a full rebuild. Now, behind the play of All-star Chris Paul, as well as Shai Gilegeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder among others, this team is the 5th seed in the Western Conference and has shown no signs of slowing down.
A potential playoff matchup between the two most underappreciated teams coming into the season would be an amazing one. The difference-maker in this series will probably be the experience that the Heat have.
Result: Heat in 7
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Miami Heat
After their trade deadline moves, it is obvious that the Heat are preparing to play the Bucks in the playoffs. A potential series from the two would be amazing. Both teams had 2 all-stars and surround their team with a mixture of young guys and veterans. The difference in a potential series would be what other players step up for the respective teams.
If the Bucks want to go far, Eric Bledsoe is going to need to silence the critics and step up his play big time. For the Heat, one of their young guards in Tyler Herro or Kendrick Nunn or a veteran such as Goran Dragic is going to have to give it their all if the Heat want to contend with a dominant Bucks team.
All in all, Giannis will look to be too much for the Heat to handle and the Bucks success will certainly follow in the playoffs.
Result: Bucks in 6
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (10) Houston Rockets
James Harden and Russell Westbrook vs. LeBron James and Anthony Davis. This series should be a good one but, it will depend on what Harden and Westbrook do in the playoffs. The two are notoriously for having blundered in the playoffs and without a reliable center on the roster, they are going to struggle against Anthony Davis.
All in all, The Lakers with a motivated LeBron is just too tough to beat and add the fact that they have a dominant big man in Davis with a veteran-heavy supporting cast, it just may be too much for the Rockets to handle.
Result: Lakers in 6
(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (6) Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets were one win away from making it to the Western Conference Finals last year and are looking to right their wrongs this season. Against a great Raptors team though, they may struggle as Jokic will be guarded by defensive-minded big men in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. This series rides on the hands of Jamal Murray and if he is able to take that next step, the Nuggets could pull it off.
With all of that being said though, Murray was someone who many expected to make a big leap this year, but he just hasn’t. Pair this with the fact that the Raptors team is filled with depth and veterans and the Nuggets just may not have what it takes to pull it off. This series will be a competitive one though, but I would expect the Nuggets to fall short once again.
Result: Raptors in 6
(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (5) Boston Celtics
This series would feature two teams with great wings. Jayson Tatum has really stepped up his play as of late and is ascending quickly. If he continues to play like he has, anything is possible for this Celtics team and should turn into one of the best players in the league as soon as next season. After signing a massive extension, Jaylen Brown was going to have to step up. He has had a pretty unfair start to his career but now, it looks as if he has found his footing and looks to be a multi-time all-star in his career.
The Clippers’ key to success rides solely on Paul George. After two straight seasons of disappointing playoff performances, PG has found himself in a new system and he has to step up to rid the stigma that was placed on him.
All in all, this may be the year the PG returns to the one that we saw in Indiana and dominates in the playoffs. The Clippers just may have too much firepower for the Celtics to contend with and that looks to be the deciding factor.
Result: Clippers in 6
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers
Two powerhouse teams going at it, what more could we ask for? This series gives Giannis a chance to get his redemption against Kawhi and prove that he is a winner. Will it happen? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Again, the Clippers just have too much firepower for the Bucks to handle. They can throw Paul George and Kawhi Leonard at Giannis and even a pest like Patrick Beverley can give Giannis minimal problems.
Ultimately, the Bucks are going to need a star if they want to win a championship and there is going to be a lot of speculation from them regarding the future of Giannis on the team.
Result: Clippers in 7
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (3) Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have had an amazing season thus far. Their ability to find those “diamond in a rough” type of players has gotten them to the point that they are at now and should be a tough opponent. With all that being said though, they are going against LeBron James.
LeBron doesn’t have the nickname “LeBronto” for nothing. He has terrorized and tormented this team for the past few seasons and despite the Raptors improvements, that trend will continue once again.
Result: Lakers in 6
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard. Paul George. LeBron James. Anthony Davis. The Battle of LA and the series that EVERYONE wants to see. Who will prevail?
Ultimately, judging from everything that we know now, the Lakers are likely to come out on top. Again, all of this falls on the shoulders of Paul George and he has shown time and time again that the pressure in a playoff series can get to him. With an extremely motivated LeBron James, this Lakers team will be nearly unbeatable, and, in my opinion, this will be the year we see LeBron capture #4.
Result: Lakers in 7