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NBA

Which teams will play in the 2020 NBA Finals?

leonard-george-westbrook-harden-antetokunmpo-middleton-simmons-embiid-ftr-nbae-gettyimages
Who will be competing for a title this year? (NBAE/Getty Images)

A busy offseason in the NBA has resulted in the league being more wide open than it has been in recent years.

With the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors - last year's finals participants - looking to be much different team's this upcoming season, a Finals rematch appears to be unlikely. So which teams will it be?

We asked our NBA.com Staff who they think will be playing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June.

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I feel good about pencilling the LA Clippers as the team to represent the Western Conference in the Finals this season.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should be nasty together on both ends of the court and the Clippers have solid depth with the likes of Lou Williams, Landry Shamet, Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell. They could do with another centre, but I'm sure that's something they'll address at some point this season, whether it's picking someone up in free agency like Joakim Noah or acquiring someone on the buyout market long before the playoffs begin.

I'm a little less certain about the Eastern Conference. It's quite clearly a two-team race between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, and I could see it going either way.

Ask me tomorrow and my answer might be different, but right now I'm going with the 76ers. They have the potential to be the best defensive team in the league this season with Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Al Horford and Joel Embiid, and they have enough talent to make it work offensively despite it not being the smoothest of fits. I also like how they match up with the Bucks specifically because of how many big bodies they can throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo.

That doesn't mean the 76ers have the personnel to completely neutralize him - those days are long gone - but they should be able to make it difficult enough for the reigning MVP to outlast the Bucks in a seven-game series should it come down to it.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): For me, all roads lead to a Finals matchup between the LA Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers.

In a loaded Western Conference, I think the Clippers will rise to the top and, ultimately, become the last team standing as they are constructed to be an absolutely menacing team in the postseason. Kawhi Leonard is due for an encore after his amazing 2019 postseason run and it's even scarier to think that he and Paul George can take turns at who will be the man offensively.

Defensively, LA will be a nightmare for other teams and has answers to any adjustments teams can make for them and to me, postseason success is all about coaching, the ability to adjust and counter to the opposition's moves. As far as coaching goes, Doc Rivers has been there a time or two.

In the East, it feels like a Conference Finals between the Sixers and Bucks is almost inevitable. I see Philly getting past Milwaukee off of the strength of the size and talent present in its starting five alone. Adding Al Horford to the All-Star duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid makes this a scary team that has already stated its intentions to make defence its calling-card.

The Sixers will have the personnel to make things very difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo, which, in turn, will limit the Bucks' success. Depth may appear to be a glaring weakness for Philly, but I think when rotations shrink in the postseason, it will be fine. That, or one of the team's lesser-known reserves will step up in a big way in the postseason.

Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Welp, here goes nothing ... Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers.

I know all of the concerns about the Warriors. I know they might even miss the playoffs. I know that on paper the Clippers have absolutely everything you could possibly want to match up with Golden State.

And yet out of sheer respect for the five-time reigning Western Conference champs, I'm riding with them until someone out West actually beats them.

Do I think they're actually the most likely? No. That would be the Clippers.

But I fully expect a vintage season from Stephen Curry and I'd be legitimately stunned if Klay Thompson returned anything other than 100% given how tough of a competitor he's proven to be over the years. Picking Golden State to come out of that West gauntlet is a pick based solely on the heart and not the head.

As for the 76ers ... I have to admit, that made 3-pointer from Ben Simmons changed everything for me. The Sixers are going to be an absolute nightmare to play against and if Simmons is capable of providing even a modicum of a threat outside of 15 feet with the ball in his hands, this team is going to have too much for any Eastern Conference team to handle.

I trust the Milwaukee Bucks to reach their ceiling more than I do the 76ers to reach theirs. But I also think Philly's ceiling is significantly higher and that's the reason I think it's the 76ers' time to come out of the East.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm going with the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks enter the 2019-20 season as favourites to win the Eastern Conference and the 76ers seem to be the only team that really stands in their way. Giannis Antetokounmpo is in position to win his second consecutive MVP and after their successful season was cut short last year, I don't see anyone stopping the Greek Freak from getting to his first NBA Finals this time around. The roster is a bit different with the departures of Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic, but their core is still intact and they've reloaded with pieces that will be ready to step up when called upon in a bench role.

As for the Rockets, this season has a "let's prove everyone wrong" feeling from James Harden and Russell Westbrook. They're stat-padders. They only care about their own personal numbers. They can't perform in the playoffs. They'll never win an NBA title ... They've heard it all. And at this stage of their careers, with the balance of power across the league, I believe they're in the best position to finally return to the NBA Finals for the first time since they did so as Oklahoma City Thunder teammates in 2012.

Houston has the talent on their roster to win the West and depth isn't as much of an issue as its been in the past. If Harden and Westbrook bring their A-game in the playoffs, they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the league in pursuit of their first NBA title of their careers.

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): LA Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks.

Depth, defence, superstars, coaching - the Clippers have all the ingredients needed to win a championship. Barring an injury to any of their key rotation players, I don't see any other team winning the Western Conference.

In the East, I was really tempted to pick the Philadelphia 76ers with their long and star-studded starting lineup, but I'm going with the familiarity and team chemistry that the Bucks are going to have. They have the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who seems to believe he has only reached 60% of his potential, and a playing style that seemed to work all of last season except in the last few games of the Conference Finals.

Yes, they have lost a key player in Malcolm Brogdon, but they have added a couple of players like Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews, who can easily be plugged into their system. Their roster depth was really good last year and it would be interesting to see how Robin Lopez and Thanasis Antetokounmpo add to that.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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