Basketball fans, rejoice! The NBA playoffs are here to bring a roller coaster of emotions straight from the basketball court. Will the Cleveland Cavaliers, the champions of 2016, defend the title this year?
After the rigorous regular season, eight teams from both Western and Eastern conferences enter the playoffs to continue the battle for the NBA Championship Rings. Two greatest teams from both conferences will meet face to face in the NBA Finals, and the round of best-of-seven series will determine who gets the fame and the glory.
NBA is one of the top men’s professional basketball leagues in the world and each participating team is striving to make the history. As for 2016, the Boston Celtics hold the most wins, counting 16 in total, but the Los Angeles Lakers are right behind them with 15 victories. Do not miss a game of the season 2017 and watch the NBA playoffs on ABC, NBC Sports, TNT Drama, Fox Sports Go (United States), TSN (Canada). Away from the country? Get NordVPN and stream the NBA playoffs from anywhere on Earth – well, except Antarctica.
Teams. When the NBA was established in 1946, there were only 11 teams participating. Over the years, the NBA league has expanded to 30 teams across North America. The teams are divided into Western and Eastern conferences, each of which has 3 divisions, 5 teams in each.
The Western conference comprises the following divisions: Northwest, Pacific and Southwest.
Northwest division: Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz
Pacific division: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings
Southwest division: Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs
The Eastern conference is divided into the Atlantic, Central and Southeast divisions.
Atlantic division: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors Central division: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks Southeast division: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards
Awards. The winner does not take it all. The winner team of the NBA finals get to hoist Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, but there are several individual awards as well. Starting from the 2016-2017 season, a few novelties are introduced regarding the award announcement – individual awards are to be revealed all at once in a special post-season announcement show. Following are the awards that get the most attention:
The MVP. The best performing player receives the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and takes the Maurice Podoloff Trophy home. It is for the panel of independent media members to decide who was the most outstanding in the basketball court each season. The members cast their votes for the top five players, ranking them first to fifth in their MVP ballot. If you were there to watch Stephen Curry stealing the show in season 2015-2016, you probably weren’t surprised that he was the first player in NBA history to win the award unanimously. Before him, only Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James have fallen a single vote shy of a unanimous MVP award.
Defensive Player of the Year. It is not all about putting points on the board – without strong defense, it is impossible to make the NBA finals. The Defensive Player of the Year title, the defensive equivalent to MVP, is given to the most deserving candidate each season. Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs was awarded as the king of defense the two previous years. This season will show if there is someone to outdo him.
Rookie of the Year. During the regular season, the panel of independent media members constantly keep an eye on the newly drafted NBA players to decide who is worth the Rookie of the Year title. The Minnesota Timberwolves can be proud as their players were the winners two years in a row: Andrew Wiggins in the 2014-2015 season and Karl-Anthony Towns in the 2015-2016 season. Who will be the top rising star this year?
Most Improved Player of the Year. Despite the quite vague criteria for selecting the winner, the Most Improved Player of the Year surely is a desirable award for a player of any level. Most of the times, the award goes to low to mid-level rotation players who have remarkably excelled during the season. However, the NBA stars who demonstrate mastery by taking their game to even higher level are also candidates to consider.
Sixth Man of the Year. Rising up from the bench more often than other players and demonstrating excellence in the basketball court can bring the award of the Sixth Man of the Year. As talented as the starter players, able to play in multiple positions and a good scorer, the Sixth Man is a huge advantage for the team. The record of winning the award repetitively belongs to the Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, who has been named NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year three times in his career.
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