Can a team live by outside shooting alone?
That is the key question facing the upstart Golden State Warriors, who finished with the league’s best record at 67-15 and are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Defending NBA champion San Antonio is lurking in the shadows but is carrying only a sixth-seed tag.
In the Eastern Conference, Atlanta coasted to a 60-22 mark to grab the No. 1 seed.
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Superstar LeBron James has the title-hungry Cleveland Cavaliers in the championship conversation.
Five storylines to watch in the NBA playoffs, which begin Saturday:
1 They have a shot The Warriors are on the clock to see if a team that stresses 3-point shooting can win an NBA championship. That formula usually doesn’t play well when it comes to handing out championships. But with MVP candidate Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shooting from the outside, the formula might work.
2 King James The pressure is mounting on James to deliver a title to Cleveland. Drafted No. 1 overall by Cleveland in 2003, James returned to the Cavaliers last summer after taking his talents to Miami via free agency in the summer of 2010. James won two titles with Miami. Cleveland wants at least one from the Akron, Ohio, native.
3 Defending champs For all of their excellence, the Spurs have never repeated as NBA champions. The Spurs have five world titles, including last season’s trophy. They are in position to win back-to-back championships again. And they’re hot. The Spurs have won 11 of their past 12 games. Fundamental basketball is a proven winning formula.
4 The ATL Those unassuming Hawks from Atlanta just kept surprising folks this season to the tune of joining Golden State as the only teams to win at least 60 games this season. The Hawks have four All-Stars and a coach (Mike Budenholzer) who earned his apprenticeship under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
5 Sleeper talk The Chicago Bulls are the dark horse to come out of the East and possibly win the NBA title this season. But only if the oft-injured club can stay healthy. Much of the Bulls’ success hinges on the health of Derrick Rose, who was limited to 51 games this season because of multiple injuries.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760