This rivalry, which has seen both sides winning a championship over the other the past two years, would fittingly come down to a Finals showdown once again. Thunder had a 3-1 lead on the Warriors in the conference final a year ago and lost in seven.
Let's start with the Warriors.
The Golden State Warriors enter the National Basketball Association playoffs this weekend looking for redemption after last season's shocking defeat in the finals, where the team blew a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the best-of-7 series. Regardless of seed, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. People may not agree, but the victor of this series can push the Warriors to a game 7.
Winning an NBA-record 73 games during the regular season past year was basically rendered irrelevant in the wake of the stunning playoff collapse, and several Warriors players are still reeling from the defeat.
Sure, you see your friends and have a pretty good time, but there's something missing.
Spurs in 4 : Memphis has the grit, but San Antonio is ready for another run at the West under Gregg Popovich. The Spurs, with Kawhi Leonard's play helming its fortunes, should be able take care of the Grizzlies, but the series won't be without bite and some intense physical play.
"I have a lot of respect for the Warriors", Lillard told ESPN. Steph Curry scored the points, while Durant and Green brought in the boards though to close this series out.
The Rockets are an interesting case against Golden State. Harden and Westbrook will both average triple-doubles and that final game in Houston promises to be electrifying but ultimately the Rockets will have too much for Oklahoma. The Golden State Warriors almost broke the record for consecutive wins to end a regular season and comfortably slot in as the top overall seed.
Need to know: Before a loss to the Bucks on March 4 in Milwaukee, the Raptors had won 13 of the previous 14. And then they added Kevin Durant, one of the five best players in the league. This is a close matchup on paper, but the true deciding factor is if the Jazz can learn on the run and find success in the playoffs. If the Jazz can clamp down defensively, they could have a very good shot of beating the Clippers.
As for the east challenging the Cavs, there are several teams that pose different types of threats.
THOMPSON: Are there are other teams? Last year, the injury bug bit Paul and Griffin during the playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. Jimmy Butler could yet wind up in Boston, although the Celtics had a shot at the trade deadline and didn't pull the trigger. They have a number of defenders they can throw at LeBron to try to slow him down, and they have the star power offensively to score with anyone. That was a curious strategy since IN will seemingly provide a much more hard first-round matchup than Chicago would have mustered. Don't be surprised by a 2nd round upset this season. Brooks will get coach-of-the-year votes just for getting John Wall and Bradley Beal meshing together. This past summer, as Chicago built its team, a firestorm of questions developed about the amount of shooting the Bulls would feature.
I love Memphis, but loosing Parsons is going to cost you, Spurs in 5 games.
The absolute best talent in this series, however, belongs with the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a multi-dimensional young superstar who is going to be a handful all series.
Can anyone stop a Warriors/Cavs 3 peat?
It's not the flashiest series, but this is a great matchup nonetheless.
Of course, there were no truly bad teams in the league this year, which would have made for a truly outlandish cost per win figure.
No team was better than Oklahoma City when it came to rebounding. And they still nearly won.
LeBron James quickly moved past Cleveland's disjointed regular season, an uphill, 82-game slog of injuries, roster upheaval and drama.
What do you think?
If you're wondering about video games' track records calling such things, Madden NFL 17 got Super Bowl 51 right, but not the overtime part. Is there anyone that can stop the Warriors?
We know that fans around the Association likely aren't rooting for a third consecutive Finals between Golden State and Cleveland.