Although the NBA All-Star Game just recently slid into the rearview, teams are already preparing to make a playoff push in hopes of winning a championship, with just eight weeks left in the regular season.
The front-runners to appear in this season’s NBA Finals are the two teams that faced each other in last season’s Finals and are currently sitting atop the Western and Eastern conferences: the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Stephen Curry-led Warriors stopped LeBron James and the Cavs in six games.
The 2015 series wasn’t short on stellar sneaker moments, with Curry and Cleveland star wearing their first-ever signature shoes, the Under Armour Curry One and the Nike Kyrie 1, respectively, and James in his Nike LeBron 12.
Although it’s tough to think about any team from the Western Conference beating the Warriors in the playoffs and advancing to the Finals, with the team on pace to have the best regular season record in the history of the league, the two teams that have the best shot at upsetting the reigning champs are the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Spurs, led by Jordan Brand-sponsored Kawhi Leonard, and the Thunder, led by Nike-sponsored Kevin Durant and Jordan Brand-sponsored Russell Westbrook, have both faced the Warriors this season and come up short. Golden State dominated the Spurs at home, defeating them by 30 points in January, and beat Oklahoma City by eight points earlier this month.
In the East, the playoff picture is a lot closer, with two teams that could potentially upset Cleveland: the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics are the most surprising team in the NBA, winning without a bona fide star, while the Raptors are performing similarly with slightly more star power. Boston is led by its Nike-wearing first-time-All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, and Toronto by its Adidas-sporting guard Kyle Lowry.
While the competition is tight, the likely scenario is that Curry and the Warriors will face James and the Cavaliers once again, with Golden State coming out on top.