As the playoffs inch closer the the NBA Finals, fans of teams around the leagues are picking sides and making predictions. According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, 35 percent of fans are cheering for the Phoenix Suns to win it all.
This shows, I am presuming, how different dedicated fans, like those who join up to SB Nation Reacts, than what the internet calls the casuals, because all I hear from people who cover the league is how terrified the league is of having teams like the Suns, Jazz and Hawks going all the way.
I’ve found myself particularly drawn to the Suns and Jazz games, myself. The Clippers might be loaded with ex-Pistons, but I don’t find their games particularly compelling.
With an ever growing fanbase behind them, the Suns swept their way into the Western Conference Finals. But despite the success, only the slimmest of a majority believe they are currently favorites to win a championship.
That points to a bit of the luck inherent in the playoffs, but I’m sure most of this is led by the giant Chris Paul question hanging over the Suns. Paul is absolutely crucial to Phoenix’s success, and he is currently out after reportedly testing positive for COVID. Just how quickly will he be able to return? It’s the biggest question of the playoffs unless you really think there is a chance that Kawhi and/or Kyrie could be returning to the lineup this postseason.
The other team expected by many to be front-runner for the championship is the Brooklyn Nets. However, with both James Harden and Kyrie Irving dealing with injuries, the path got a lot harder.
According to fans around the country, without a totally healthy and full-speed Big Three, the Nets are unlikely to even reach the Finals.
Now, what if the Nets pull a Meat Loaf and say “two out of three ain’t bad”? Harden is technically “back,” though he looked like a shadow of his former self. It took a Herculean effort from Kevin Durant to deliver a win. If Durant goes from all-time great to just regular superstar level great, how good does Harden need to be to deliver the series to the Nets? Forty percent? Fifty percent?
Of course, the Nets aren’t the only favorite fighting for their postseason lives. Despite being picked to win their series by 75 percent of fans after Game 4, the Philadelphia 76ers face a must-win Game 6. Similarly, the Utah Jazz were picked to win their series by 55 percent of fans heading into Game 5, and now face elimination.
Whoever ends up on top after the final whistle, it will be cheered on by a fanbase unused to the experience. After the dominant runs by both the Golden State Warriors and any team featuring LeBron James, fans around the league believe there has been a turning of the page in the NBA.
In fact, not having all of same-old faces has made things more interesting for fans. More than three-fourths of fans said the playoffs have been more compelling without LeBron James fighting for another championship.
Expect some Pistons fans in the Reacts survey soon as we will know where the Pistons are selecting in the NBA Draft on Thursday. And who do you want the Pistons to draft? To make sure fans make the “right” vote, you need to sign up.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.