It’s no mystery who the clear-cut favorites are in the NBA (Milwaukee, both Los Angeles teams). However, within every group of favorites there are sleeper teams, and here are the top three “sleeper” teams to win the NBA Finals this season.
For some reason, people continue to sleep on the defending champions of the league, however holding the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, they have a great chance to repeat as NBA Champions.
The Raptors may have lost two important players from last year’s championship run in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, but they still have exceptional talent capable of making a deep playoff run.
Five main returners from last season have all stepped into bigger roles to fill the holes of Leonard and Green. Pascal Siakam has become the Raptors’ go-to scorer. Fred Vanvleet has continued his hot shooting streak and is their best perimeter player. Kyle Lowry remains the leader and floor general.
OG Anunoby has become Toronto’s new lockdown defender. And, of course, Serge Ibaka can block any shot that comes in the paint.
The Raptors are still a complete basketball team with the capability to repeat as NBA Champions. The path to the Finals is no cakewalk for any team in the league this season but as the two seed, they should ride out home-court advantage for most of the playoffs.
The Houston Rockets are trying out something that hasn’t been done before and it might just win them a title. They traded Clint Capela away before the deadline and are attempting to win with a ‘small ball’ lineup. Their center, P.J. Tucker, is only 6-foot-5 and James Harden has been taking the tip-offs to start the games.
This may be one of the craziest ideas in NBA history.
The thing that is not debatable is that the Rockets can score the ball like no other team. They currently have two players capable of scoring 50+ points each and every game in James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Together they average over 65 points per game.
However, the keys for the Rockets are their role players. Players like Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Danuel House, P.J. Tucker, and Robert Covington whose jobs are to play defense and hit three-pointers when Harden or Westbrook kick the ball out.
The Rockets may not be full of height but they sure are full of talent. Talent capable of winning a championship for Houston for the first time since the 1995 Hakeem Olajuwon-led squad. The west is loaded this season but the Rockets can compete with any team in this league especially in a four-game series.
If someone called the Heat a ‘sleeper’ team five years ago, they would be called crazy. However, in 2020 that is exactly what they are, a team that no one believes can win the NBA Finals without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Here is why Miami can shock the world and win their fourth-ever title.
The Heat brought in superstar Jimmy Butler this off-season to try and propel the team into the playoffs after missing it last season. Miami accomplished way more than they had thought.
The Heat hold the four-seed in the Eastern Conference and have a large collection of young stars.
Rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have been amazing all season and proved to be one of the few steals of the past draft. They both have stepped into key roles by bringing scoring sparks off the bench. Second-year stud Bam Adebayo has taken over the league with his rim rocking dunks and stellar interior play, earning himself the first All-Star selection of his career. High-flyer Derrick Jones Jr. won the Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend and gets the home arena fired up every time he throws one down.
The Heat are 23-3 at home, so if they can secure home-court advantage for at least one round in the playoffs it can help them get on a hot streak and ride it out for the remaining series. Also, look for new additions, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala to provide some veteran experience needed to make a deep playoff run.