With the NBA playoffs vastly approaching as we head towards summer and the end of the regular season, it is time to start looking at potential dark horses in the championship race. While the top teams like the Heat, Spurs, and Thunder are all picks to win it, what about those lesser teams with championship heart?
In the Eastern Conference
The Boston Celtics are the true dark horses in this conference. While the Celtics have hit the injury bug hard this year with losses such as all star Point Guard Rajon Rondo, rookie big man Jared Sullinger, and back pg Leandro Barbosa, the team has still managed to flourish and play great defense. Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley are the best defensive backcourt in the league and with a rising star in Jeff Green coming off the bench to give the veteran’s a much needed rest the team should have no goals other than winning the title. Doc Rivers is arguably the best coach in the NBA currently and has his team playing solid fundamental ball. Big man Brandon Bass is finally showing why he was resigned in the offseason and is hitting the glass hard with Chris Wilcox making up for the low rebound percentage. Jason Terry has shown in spurts he is capable of replacing Ray Allen and occasionally running the point guard spot. As long as the Cs can stay above the 7th or 8th seeds, expect a good fight to the conference finals like last year.
In the Western Conference
The Houston Rockets should be considered the true Dark Horse team in the Western Conference. While teams like Memphis and Golden State are threats to the elite teams at the top, they have been towards the top seeds since the regular season start. This Houston team, coached by Kevin McHale, is on average the youngest team in the NBA however they have managed to firmly plant themselves in the number 7 seed with a 39-32 record. With an MVP candidate and do it all player in shooting guard James Harden and budding stars in 3 pt specialist Foward Chandler Parsons, Big man Omer Asik, and fan favorite point guard Jeremy Lin, this team has become the 2nd highest scoring team in the NBA at 106 points per game With a recent victory over the Spurs, the best team in the West, this team has become a realistic threat. The team is currently 5th in assists per game and 9th in rebounds per game. If any team has an off shooting night against the Rockets the game might as well be over. With James Harden showing why he was paid the big bucks in the offseason, the sky is the limit for this offensive Juggernaut.