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OHS Observer

Stanford Online High School's student run news site

OHS Observer

Stanford Online High School's student run news site

OHS Observer

A Clash of Destinies: The Ultimate Race for NBA Glory

The NBA Playoffs are set to start on April 20th, 2024. (
The NBA Playoffs are set to start on April 20th, 2024. (

The NBA Playoffs are officially here and there could not be a better time to watch basketball than right now! With just one game left after a long and grueling regular season, the Western Conference has three teams with the exact same record competing for the 1-seed, something that had never happened in NBA history. The Eastern Conference was equally competitive, with three teams battling for the 2-seed and three teams with the same record battling for the 5-seed. This is a testament to the level of intense competition that has defined this season.


As we enter the postseason, the stakes could not be higher. The playoffs are not just a series of basketball games: they are a battleground where legends are made and dreams can be shattered in the matter of seconds. This year’s playoffs promise to deliver non-stop action and unforgettable moments, underlined by intense rivalries and underdog stories. This year’s road to the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be one of the most challenging rides yet, so be ready to see some crazy showdowns and unexpected twists.


Format of the Playoffs

If you are new to the NBA, this section will briefly cover the format of the regular season and playoffs. There are a total of 30 teams, with 15 in the Eastern Conference and 15 in the Western Conference. The regular season lasted 82 games, and the top 6 teams from each conference automatically advancing to the playoffs. The 7-10 seeds in each conference will participate in the play-in tournament to decide the final 2 spots for the playoffs.


There are 4 rounds in the playoffs: the first-round, the second–round (NBA Conference Semifinals), NBA Conference Finals, and the NBA Finals. In each round, teams will play a best-of-seven series with the winner moving onto the next round. The first round begins on April 20th, and the NBA Finals will begin on June 6th.


With the playoff format set, the stage is ready for the top contenders to make their mark. Each team has a unique story, mixed with ambition and hope from each of its players. I will cover the top three teams from the Eastern and the Western Conference who have a legitimate chance to make NBA history.


Stars of the Eastern Conference


Boston Celtics 

The Boston Celtics are inarguably the best team in basketball right now. They were the only team this year to reach 60 wins and set themselves apart from every other Eastern Conference team with 14 more wins than the 2-seed New York Knicks. After a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in last year’s conference finals, the Celtics wasted no time improving on their already talented roster by trading for 7’2 Kristaps Porzingis and all-star defensive guard Jrue Holiday. These players perfectly complemented their MVP-caliber player Jayson Tatum and 3-time All-star Jaylen Brown.


“I think the Celtics will win,” Kavin Krishna (‘25), a true Celtics fan from OHS, said. “They have the best combination of shooting, scoring around the rim, defense, and playmaking in the league. They also have the best regular season team, and they’re completely healthy.”


The Celtics have the most to prove out of every team in the NBA. After falling short of a championship year after year, the Celtics are not just competing against their opponents but also carry heavy expectations. The failure to win a championship this year even with the addition of Porzingis and Holiday would raise serious questions as to whether the Celtics’ core members Tatum and Brown could ever win a championship. This urgency is compounded by the fact that both players are in their prime, at 26 and 27 respectively, and hungry for their first taste of championship glory.

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics has the opportunity to bring the franchise its 18th championship. (Wikimedia)


Winning the championship would be the first time since the Celtics won it in 2008 during the big three era of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. This would also be their 18th championship in franchise history, which would put them ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for most championship wins in NBA history. A win for Tatum would silence doubters and add to his already impressive resumé, solidifying himself as one of the best players in the league.


New York Knicks 

For the first time in 11 years, the New York Knicks have won 50 games and secured the 2-seed. After multiple years of terrible management and roster construction, this team has given the city of New York a sense of hope and excitement. All-star point guard Jalen Brunson has quickly become the heart and soul of the team. His incredible ability to get to the rim combined with his clutch scoring  has provided the Knicks with a reliability they’ve lacked for years.


The unique chemistry the team possesses can be attributed to the fact that Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo were all former teammates at Villanova University and won an NCAA Championship together. The team has continued to develop their roster by trading for defensive specialist OG Anunoby and bringing in players such as sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic to add to their bench unit. With this team, the Knicks have had an impressive 14-2 record in the month of January and finished the season strong, solidifying their status as a top contender in the Eastern Conference.


The implications for winning a championship are astronomical. It would restore the Knicks to their former glory and finally end the tumultuous cycle of despair for their fans. It would be a testament to the effectiveness of their rebuild, reinforcing Madison Square Garden’s legacy as the pinnacle of basketball greatness.


Milwaukee Bucks 

Powered by their superstar and former two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks secured the 1-seed last year and were the heavy favorites to win the championship. However, their hopes were quickly shattered after a surprising loss to the 8-seed Miami Heat. Following this disappointing exit, Giannis threatened to leave the team and put immense pressure on the front office to upgrade the roster. They did not disappoint, trading for superstar guard Damian Lillard just before the season started.


The Bucks were immediately deemed as championship favorites, and fans were excited to see how their playstyles would complement each other and elevate the team to new heights. However, their season has been clouded by mystery and confusion: after starting off with a respectable 30-13 record, they fired coach Adrian Griffin and replaced him with Doc Rivers, someone who is notorious for consistently falling short of playoff expectations.


Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks can bring home their 2nd title in 4 years. (Wikimedia) (Keith Allison)

Amidst this drama, a personal issue was quietly impacting the dynamics of the team. Lillard, the team’s second–most important player, filed a divorce and was not around his three children for the majority of the season. Despite these hurdles, the resilience of the team shone through as they clinched the 3-seed. Winning a championship would not just secure Lillard his first-ever NBA title, it would solidify Giannis’ legacy and solidify his status as an all-time great. This season is more than just a quest for a title: it is a chance at redemption for two of the league’s most formidable stars.


Stars of the Western Conference


Oklahoma City Thunder 

This season’s Western Conference features some of the most fierce competition in recent memory, and the OKC Thunder have emerged as a formidable force. Led by MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA) and 7’1 rookie Chet Holmgren, the Thunder have surprised many by not only competing but thriving. After fully committing to a rebuild in 2019, the Thunder have steadily improved each season and quickly made it back to the top of their conference.

Shail Gilgeous-Alexander of the OKC Thunder can bring home their 1st championship. (Wikimedia)


Despite their success, many are questioning how their youth and inexperience will affect them in high-intensity playoff games. The average age of the current roster is around 24 years old, making them the second-youngest team this season. The average age of championship teams is around 28 years old, but this fact alone does not rule them out of the playoff picture.


Winning the championship for the Thunder would mean so much for the fans. It would defy the odds and silence those who doubt the capability of a young team to secure the NBA’s most coveted trophy. A championship win would also be a form of redemption from the 2007-2016 Durant & Westbrook era, where their two superstars came so close to glory but ultimately fell short. SGA and Holmgren would establish themselves as faces of the league and ultimately prove that age is just a number.


Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are the reigning champions, having won the title last year. Their system entirely revolves around their center and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, known for his jaw-dropping passing skills and ability to score from virtually anywhere on the court. It is difficult for teams to stop his two-man game with Jamal Murray, who has consistently elevated his game to the next level during the playoffs. Even if opponents manage to slow down Murray, Jokic will magically find Aaron Gordon sitting in the paint, a versatile yet strong power forward that can finish at the rim and provides a physical presence on both ends of the floor.


“I think the Nuggets will be the NBA Champions because they have a lot of postseason experience,” Ali Fasihuddin (‘26), a Warriors fan from OHS, said. “They have proven time and time again that they are the team to beat. They have the best player in the world in Nikola Jokic, and I don’t trust the Celtics or anyone else in the Eastern Conference to beat them in a 7–game series.”


Heading into the playoffs as the defending champions, the Nuggets have a massive target on their back. Winning another championship would make them back-to-back champions, a rare accomplishment that has only been achieved by 13 teams. Jokic would further cement his legacy as one of the most skilled and innovative centers in NBA history, and the Nuggets would have the opportunity to solidify themselves as a modern dynasty.


Minnesota Timberwolves

Before last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves made the extremely risky move to trade for 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Everyone ridiculed this decision, as they ultimately ended up as the 8-seed and made an early first-round exit versus the Denver Nuggets. However, they have shocked everyone this season by maintaining the same core of players, but still climbing their way to the 3-seed. With the emergence of rising superstar guard Anthony Edwards and the continued development of shooting-big Karl-Anthony Towns, the team has found a rhythm that capitalizes on their combined offensive and defensive strengths.


The Wolves are poised to challenge the top contenders and potentially make a deep run. The team has constantly been characterized by periods of struggle and mediocrity, never managing to win a playoff series since their Western Conference Finals appearance in 2004. This makes the current turnaround all the more significant for the franchise and the fanbase.


Winning the championship would be transformative for the Wolves, marking their first-ever NBA title and conclusively breaking away from the long-standing narrative of underperformance. It would prove to the doubters that the Gobert trade was all worth it, and it would cement Anthony Edwards as a figure who helped turn the entire franchise around. The fans would be put out of their misery, finally tasting the glory and celebration that comes with the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy.


This poll has ended.

Who do you think will win the 2024 NBA Championship?


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Closing Thoughts

There are many teams not covered here with a legitimate chance at the title. “I personally think that the Dallas Mavericks are going to win,” Ani Parthasarathy (’26), a Warriors fan from OHS said. “Luka Dončić is an MVP level player, and Kyrie Irving helped Lebron win a ring in 2016, so who’s to say he and Dončić can’t win one together?”


As the playoffs unfold, each team enters with its own narrative as underlined by their unique histories. From the Celtics pursuing their 18th championship to the Nuggets defending their crown, and the incredible transformation of the Timberwolves and Thunder, this year’s playoffs is set to be one of the most unpredictable and highly anticipated in recent memory. If you are new to the NBA, then this is the perfect opportunity to experience the thrill of watching high-stakes basketball and watch history unfold before your very own eyes.

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