We have finally made it to the conference finals in the East and West. In an unexpected turn of events, both number one seeds– the Utah Jazz and the Philidelphia 76er’s–have been eliminated by the four and five seeds respectively. So now we’re left with a final four of the Los Angeles Clippers facing the Phoenix Suns and the Atlanta Hawks against the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Playoffs.
A new era may have just begun considering none of these teams have been in this position for quite some time or at all. Could we be seeing a new wave of championship programs rising up?
The updated #NBAPlayoffs bracket after the @ATLHawks win Game 1 of the #NBAECF presented by AT&T! THURSDAY on ESPN ⤵️ 9:00 PM ET: PHX (2-0) LAC, Game 3 pic.twitter.com/TncgdtjAyO — NBA (@NBA) June 24, 2021
A brief history lesson
None of the current final four teams have won a championship or been a runner-up in the last two decades. In fact, the only ones to have a championship at all are the Bucks and the Hawks. The most recent championship teams include the Los Angeles Lakers last season, the Toronto Raptors in 2019, and the Golden State Warriors in 2018. Besides the wildcard Raptors, the Lakers and Warriors are well-known legendary programs, each with at least four titles.
The stage is set for one of these underdog teams to rewrite history and set a new precedent in their region.
According to Basketball Reference, the Hawks won an NBA championship back when they were the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. So you could say they’re due for another title. Having won the last two series 4-1 and 4-3 and shutting down the number one 76er’s in a thrilling seven games, Atlanta is lead by an incredibly talented group this year. 15-year veteran Lou
Williams is a part of this roster alongside Trae Young who has been lighting it up this season. Williams is averaging 11.7 points per game against Milwaukee and Young 15 points per game, per ESPN. They’ve had 47 playoff appearances total and are looking to go all the way this time around.
Hungry for more.#BelieveAtlanta — Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 24, 2021
Following suit, Milwaukee also only has one championship under their belt from 1971. The team was led then by Hall of Famer and six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The current Bucks have quite a legend to live up to. Led now by two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time all-defensive player of the year Jrue Holiday and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton, they place first in the Central Division. The team has made it to the playoffs for the past five years in a row but has not made it past the conference finals. Could this year be their year?
The job is not done. pic.twitter.com/cfQYLS6TsF — Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 23, 2021
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have been to the NBA playoffs 16 times in their history but have yet to add a title to their list. Kawhi Leonard has led his team to a championship before, as he was part of the Raptors 2019 championship team, but he is set to miss his fifth straight game after injuring his knee in the series against the Jazz, per CBS Sports.
Although he has a pretty capable supporting cast, including Paul George and Rajon Rondo who have helped get them to where they sit now. They’re currently down two games to one against Phoenix but there is still plenty of time to turn things around. And with the number of game sevens we’ve seen so far, it’s totally possible to bounce back from behind.
See you soon, #ClipperNation. pic.twitter.com/4zkfsRL8FD — LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 24, 2021
The Suns are also among one of the teams to not have a title under their belt but have produced some of the best players in the league. Having made the playoffs 30 times historically, this franchise is backed by eight-time All Star and Hall of Famer Steve Nash and two-time MVP and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
They currently are lead by the unstoppable Devin Booker who at only 24 years old ranks third in his position of shooting guard this season, per ESPN. Alongside him is Chris Paul who although has missed a few games due to health and safety protocols, the 11-time All Star and 16-year veteran is back and won’t stop fighting until the job is done.
pic.twitter.com/nqziefcuIH — Phoenix Suns (@Suns)