Jazz star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell recently praised the abundance of new teams and players in this year’s postseason. He mentioned the league’s “new blood” that is ripe in the playoffs, with many top veterans absent.
Mitchell appreciates this change in scenery as he attempts to lead his 1st seeded Jazz to the finals.
“I see the tweets (about the new blood in these playoffs). We all do. The best thing about it is, that�s what makes these games so competitive. The Clippers � correct me if I�m wrong � have never won a championship. We�ve never won one. Phoenix has never won one. You look at how competitive these games are; I think that�s what makes this playoff so intense, so exciting.”Donovan Mitchell via The Athletic
Most notably, perhaps, is the absence of both Stephen Curry and LeBron James. For the past decade, the duo has dominated the league so much so to the point where this year’s finals will be the first since 2010 not to feature either player.
LeBron and his Heat were an ever-present force in the playoffs early in the decade, reaching 4 straight finals and winning 2. He did the same with the Cavaliers, making it 8 straight finals appearances. He held this streak until 2019 where his new Lakers team missed out on the playoffs after an injury-plagued season.
Even then, LeBron managed to bounce back in 2020 and win the title with the Lakers in the NBA bubble.
In all 4 of James’ finals with the Cavaliers this decade, Steph Curry’s Warriors met them with similarly dominant opposition. Golden State managed to appear in a staggering 5 straight finals where they won 3.
With this year’s play-in games, the early Warriors-Lakers matchup pitted Steph and LeBron against each other earlier than ever before. Luckily for fans, the game lived up to the anticipation, and Lakers fans imagined a deep playoff run for their team.
However, it was not meant to be as LeBron’s Lakers exited in the first round after a 6-game series with the Suns.
Now with both superstars out, the Suns and Jazz seem the favorites to win the Western Conference. Both franchises are yet to hang a title banner in their stadiums, and both haven’t seen the finals since way back in the ’90s.