4 teams with the best narratives to win the championship

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The 2021 NBA playoffs are heating up with the race to the Larry O’Brien trophy getting tighter and it’s still anybody’s ball game at this point. This season figures to be a historical one for the remaining protagonists. Five of the remaining franchises — the L.A. Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Denver Nuggets — have yet to win an NBA title. Meanwhile the remaining three — Philadelphia 76ers (1983), Milwaukee Bucks (1971), and Atlanta Hawks (1958 back when they were the St. Louis Hawks) — have waited a long time to feel basketball nostalgia once again.

Each team offers unique stories as they embark on this playoff journey. With that, here are the five teams with the most compelling narratives to win the 2021 NBA championship.
1. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns offer probably the most feel good story out of the remaining teams still in the hunt for this year’s 2021 NBA championship. This Suns franchise has been through the darkest of times over the past decade. Winning their first title ever, especially after missing the playoffs over the last 10 years, would be one of the most remarkable turnarounds in league history.
This is a team that won 19 games just two seasons ago. They showed promise in the 2019-20 season, especially during their Orlando Bubble run, where they went undefeated. Despite failing to reach the postseason, that run planted the seeds for a coming out party in 2020-21, with some help from a few key off-season acquisitions. Capping it off with a championship not only would erase the memories of the previous decade, but also that of the past playoff pains in the Steve Nash and Charles Barkley eras.
In addition, Chris Paul finally wins the elusive NBA championship he’s been trying to achieve in his storied 16-year NBA career. Paul has accomplished a lot of individual accolades in his NBA career — 11-time All-Star, 9-time All-NBA, 9-time All-Defensive Team. He has also made every team he has been to significantly better, including this inspiration Suns team.
However, arguably the biggest knock on his career is he has not gotten it done in the postseason, especially in his days with the Clippers. CP3’s legacy as one of the best point guards of all time is already cemented, but a championship would change his perception as one of the top guys that failed to reach the NBA mountaintop.
2. Utah Jazz
Like Phoenix, Utah has yet to win a championship in its 47 seasons as a franchise. They have come incredibly close twice during the Karl Malone and John Stockton era after they made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998. However, a guy named Michael Jordan was in their way in both occasions and like most teams in the 1990’s, they also fell victim to the GOAT.
This current iteration of the Jazz has been knocking on the door over the last few seasons. Despite finishing the regular season with the best record in the NBA, Utah still had some doubters as to whether they could go all the way due to their lack of a true NBA superstar. So far, however, Donovan Mitchell is proving to be that guy for them in the 2021 postseason.
Personally for Mitchell, he has yet to break through that glass ceiling as one of those perceived to be the next top guys in the league. Studs such as Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, and Trae Young are often ranked a tier above Spida. Undoubtedly, leading the Jazz to their first ever NBA title at age 24 would place Donovan Mitchell in that same perceived class as those aforementioned.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks have been viewed as championship contenders over the past three seasons, especially since they finished with the league’s best regular season record in 2018-19 and 2019-20. However, in the last couple of years, Milwaukee has been largely disappointing in the postseason. In 2019, they squandered a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals and lost four straight games to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors. In 2020, after posting one of the best regular seasons of all time, the Bucks choked big time in the second round and fell to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in five games.
Winning a championship this season would finally shut their naysayers up about how they are just a regular season team. It would also be more impressive since they would need to get through the title favorites Brooklyn Nets to do so.
Like the Bucks, franchise superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has drawn the flak of critics for coming up short in the playoffs, particularly because of his limited offensive game. If he somehow is able to power this Bucks team against an offensive juggernaut like the Nets and eventually lead them to the 2021 NBA title, Antetokounmpo’s legacy may already be cemented at just the age of 26.
Milwaukee last tasted of NBA glory exactly 40 years ago, when a sophomore phenom named Lew Alcindor (who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) led them to their lone NBA championship.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
The L.A. Clippers have been seen mostly as a joke since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, all while the Los Angeles Lakers won NBA championships left and right.
In the 2010’s, the Clippers were the relatively more successful team over the Lakers, with the latter going through arguably their darkest time in franchise history. However, even with a star tandem of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way, they still failed to win a championship and had a number of postseason meltdowns during that era.
The Clippers finally appeared ready to take over the City of Angels with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George coming over in the summer of 2019 to rival their cross-town foes’ superstar tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With both teams fielding championship-caliber rosters, everybody looked forward to the Battle of L.A. going down in the postseason.
However, in the 2020 playoffs, the Clippers once again became the laughing stock of the league after they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. They failed to fulfill their end of the stick to book the highly-anticipated Battle of L.A. Western Conference Finals match-up. To make things worse, the Lakers eventually won the 2020 title, proving once again that they run the city of Los Angeles.
Winning a championship this season still likely won’t change the Clippers’ standing as the second-fiddle Los Angeles team. Nonetheless, their days of being a laughing stock would come to an end.

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