In Depth

NBA 2017-18 season preview: can anyone stop the Golden State Warriors?

Ahead of the new basketball season we pick out the pundit and fan predictions

The NBA returns to the court in the early hours of tomorrow morning with LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors both in action on the opening night.

After defeating the Cavs 4-1 in the 2017 NBA Finals in June, the Warriors, who are reigning champions, will be aiming to retain their crown. The two teams have met in the finals in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – could we see part four of the duel next year?

We pick out the pundit predictions for the 2018 NBA champions, most valuable player (MVP) and the best NBA fan reaction ahead of the new basketball season in the US.

Pundit predictions: who will win the NBA Finals in 2018?

Howard Beck, senior writer at Bleacher Report: “I’d love to go bold and contrarian here, to tell you that the Thunder/Celtics/Rockets/Cavs/Team of Your Choice will cradle the Larry O’Brien trophy next June. I would love to tell you that the NBA championship is up for grabs this season. I would love to write that. I really would. But that bleep ain’t the truth, as a certain scripture-quoting gangster once said. The Golden State Warriors are going to win the title again. And though that might be a boring prediction [and outcome], it’s also the only realistic one.” 

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are favourites to win their respective conferences and reach the NBA Finals. Play-off experience matters in our 2017-18 NBA projections – and they have plenty of it.” 

NBA staff, Sports Illustrated: “It would be downright negligent for an NBA staff not to offer championship predictions before the start of a new season, but when you have two favourites as heavy as the Warriors and Cavaliers, the entire exercise seems pretty trivial. The 2017-18 season features two once-in-a-generation teams. Sure, there’s a handful of challengers that made intriguing moves to take a run at the crown, but barring a catastrophic injury or plot twist, we’re getting Warriors-Cavs IV. Book it.”

Michael Pina, Vice: “PJ Tucker may not be the most high-profile signing of the off-season. But he is the exact commodity the [Houston] Rockets needed. And this season, he can be the difference between Houston merely playing against the Warriors in a post-season series, and actually beating them.” 

Who will be the NBA’s MVP in 2018?

Howard Beck, Bleacher Report: “No team can match the Warriors’ brilliant talent and chemistry. So count on another confetti storm in Oakland – the third in four years – and a long-awaited Finals MVP trophy for Steph Curry.” 

Andrew Sharp, Sports Illustrated: “A month ago my pick would’ve been Kawhi [Leonard, San Antonio Spurs], but his quad injury is lingering while the Rockets look poised to blitz the West for the No. 2 seed, and that’s enough to give me pause. Instead, give me Steph [Curry]. He’s the most valuable player on the best team the league has ever seen, and this shouldn’t be all that complicated.” 

Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated: “This award often boils down to how much [LeBron] James cares to win it. When he has a ready-made contender playing the long game for a return to the Finals, vying for the MVP might seem needless. But if he has something to prove, we could see LeBron again meld ridiculous efficiency with the extraordinary excess of superstar production.” 

Sean Deveney, SportingNews.com: “It’s going to be difficult for the usual suspects to seize control of the MVP race, which probably means we’ll have four top candidates duking it out: [LeBron] James in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving in Boston – though Gordon Hayward might steal some of his juice – John Wall in Washington and Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio.” 

How to watch the NBA on TV in the UK

BT Sport will show live coverage of the NBA during the 2017-18 season via its channels and app. It will broadcast up to seven live games per week throughout the regular season and the first and second rounds of the play-offs. BT Sport will also show every game of the conference finals and NBA Finals.  

The NBA League Pass is also available for live matches and on-demand content. Prices start at £14.99 for team choice and go up to £29.99 per month for the premium package. This includes every game and exclusive features. 

What the fans think…

NBA fixtures (all times UK) 

Tomorrow’s NBA fixtures

  • Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers (1.30am) 
  • Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors (3.30am)

Thursday’s NBA fixtures

  • Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers (12am) 
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards (12am) 
  • Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons (12am) 
  • Miami Heat at Orlando Magic (12am) 
  • Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics (12.30am) 
  • New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies (1am) 
  • Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks (1.30am) 
  • Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz (2am) 
  • Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs (2.30am) 
  • Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns (3am) 
  • Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings (3am)

Friday’s NBA fixtures

  • Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors (12.30am) 
  • New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder (1am) 
  • Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (3.30am)

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