The NBA season is almost a week old, but we want to continue our Sports 2.0 staff’s look at the 2020-21 campaign. In this piece, we take a look at who we see as the teams to beat this season. The Sports 2.0 staff believes that the Lakers repeat as champs. Let’s take a look at how they came to their conclusion.
Sports 2.0 NBA Prediction Series – Eastern Conference
It would seem like the Eastern Conference is wide open, but when we survey the Sports 2.0 staff, a few familiar names come up.
Topping the list is the Milwaukee Bucks, who have had the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference the past two seasons but have lost in the conference finals and the conference semifinals. With a new contract extension in hand, Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking for the one thing in the NBA that has eluded him so far: An NBA title.
Milwaukee made a lot of changes to its roster in the offseason, with Jrue Holiday joining the team and players like George Hill, Eric Bledsoe and Wesley Matthews moving on. Will the changes help come the postseason? We won’t know until the games are played, but the Bucks came out on top among the Sports 2.0 crew.
If Milwaukee doesn’t make the Finals, we like the Boston Celtics to be the ones to represent the East. Boston didn’t have to make many moves in the offseason, though it did allow Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter to leave.
Still, this team is more about letting the young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to develop into stars in the league. And having more time with point guard Kemba Walker to develop the kind of championship chemistry you have to have.
Other teams mentioned as being possible contenders in the East included the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets.
Sports 2.0 NBA Prediction Series – Western Conference
Don’t be shocked, but a couple of teams from Los Angeles rank highest for the Sports 2.0 staff when it comes to who will rule the West in 2020-21. And while the Clippers got some votes, the Lakers were the undisputed pick to be the Western Conference’s representative in the Finals.
Los Angeles is coming off a title and seems to have gotten better, thanks to the additions of Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol. The question is how well the superstar tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis can hold up after a long postseason and short offseason of rest.
The Lakers may not be the tops in the West as far as the regular season again, but come playoff time, we like them to make it back to the Finals.
The Lakers’ biggest competitors for the West title will be their roommates at Staples Center. The Clippers have a new coach in Ty Lue and have juggled their pieces a bit, but they still have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and that makes them contenders.
Will last season’s disappointing loss to Denver in the conference semifinals bring out the best in Los Angeles come this postseason? Or will it be a cloud over their heads that they can’t shake?
Also in the running in the West in our eyes are the Denver Nuggets, who made it to the Western Conference finals a season ago.
Lakers Repeat As Champs – Championship Pick
While whatever team comes out of the East is going to be able to put up a fight, it won’t have the championship experience that the Los Angeles Lakers have. For that reason, we like the Lakers to win it again.
While it should be a more entertaining series than last season’s NBA Finals, we have a hard time believing that James and Davis will let a chance to go back-to-back slip through their fingers if they get that close to the title again.
Be sure to check out Sports 2.0’s other NBA prediction pieces for the 2020-21 NBA Season: