With the main free agents signed, power has shifted between some teams in each conference. This article is dedicated to predicting what teams will have the fiercest rivalries during the 2015-2016 NBA season.
As everyone knows, their is already some rivalries that are pretty fun to watch. Those games are your Houston versus Dallas, Cleveland versus Chicago, and Los Angeles Clippers versus Golden State Warriors. These new rivalries, that I will discuss are from a variety of things like, heated playoff battles, offseason tensions, and just new teams with young rising talent.
Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee is a rising power in the Eastern Conference. Although they have not proven themselves to be a threat to take the East’s crown yet, they have the talent to play with anyone in the East. Chicago has been good for the past few years, but they cannot get past LeBron in the playoffs. Chicago brought in a young, offensive minded coach to try to counter LeBron. These two teams are staring at new futures, and being separated by only a 90 minute drive, this series should become very emotional and competitive. As we saw this past postseason, Milwaukee has the talent to stick around with Chicago, and that was without Jabari Parker, or Greg Monroe. Chicago was not fully healthy for that series, but still were shown, Milwaukee is not the slacks they were once thought to be. The Eastern Conference is not as much of a joke as it has been the past few seasons, and with the young teams talent beginning to hit major strides in development, lead by Milwaukee, Chicago will now have a new main competitor in the central division.
Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards
This will be an intriguing match-up for the season. Washington lost their veteran playoff leader in Paul Pierce, while Toronto has added key players to fill their weaknesses. Toronto, Washington, and Milwaukee should be battling for the 3-6 spots in the playoffs. With that in mind, and the way Toronto was destroyed by Washington this past postseason, Toronto should have a vengeance out to prove people they are contenders, and can compete with the better competition of the league. Washington has added key bench players as well, and when these two teams meet during the season, the starting fives, and benches will be evenly matched leaving for great games. Emotions should build throughout the season, as these two could be destined for another meeting in the playoffs as the 4 and 5 seed.
Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers
This whole new rivalry will be from DeAndre Jordan and his decision this summer. The Clippers are a much better team than the Mavericks, but the Maverick’s team is angry at Jordan, for his disrespectful way of leaving them. The first game between these twos will likely be filled with quite of bit of tension. Although nothing should escalate to physical altercation, there will be a lot of verbal expletives used towards each other. These two teams will be very physical during their games against one another, and had Jordan not left Dallas the way he did, the Clippers would have probably swept this season series, but due to the emotional state of the Mavericks, I expect for this series to be a split.
Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers
Miami has reloaded their team this offseason. They were able to retain Dragic, Wade and Deng, while add Winslow, Green, and Stoudemire for their bench depth. In the final weeks of the season, the Heat tried to make a run at the playoffs, and most expects predicted them to be the Cavalier’s toughest competition if they made it that far, luckily for the Cavaliers, the Heat were unable to make the playoffs. The Cavalier’s have been able to retain most of their core, they still have a few players left out there, but they should be back as well. With these two teams getting their rosters fully loaded on paper, it should become a great season series this upcoming season for the league. Expect these games to be full of high scoring, emotional play, along with Wade and LeBron trying to show the world they do not need each other to win a championship.
Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans
I do not know how many of my viewers got to watch the match-ups between the Pelicans and Thunder last season, but they were some of the most interesting games to watch. Neither team was fully healthy last season, and this might have lead to why the series was so competitive, but with both teams healthy this year, the competition will hopefully be even better. Anthony Davis, a early candidate for MVP, will lead a interesting Pelicans team looking to return to the playoffs, while the Thunder look to be re-lead by the tandem of a healthy former MVP in Kevin Durant, and another potential MVP candidate in Russell Westbrook. When these two meet, expect a lot of offense, good defense, and to become very physical. I have a feeling this series will end in a splint, as the talent favors the Thunder, but not as much as it use to, just showing you how stiff the competition is in the Western Conference.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17
Very interesting article; it got me excited for the start of the next season.