As the NBA moves from 16 teams to their version of the NCAA’s Final Four, it’s a common theme that pops up every year pitting the usual suspects vs. contenders to the conference thrones. The NBA playoff bracket is no different than last year in that sense. One both sides of the conference, there’s a legacy at stake or a change signaling of the future that unseats the current kings (at least, temporarily). No pun intended.

Let’s talk about LeBron’s Legacy and a Golden St. Dynasty

It doesn’t take the best NBA betting guide to say that coming into the 2017-18 season, the favorites to advance to the NBA Finals were going to be the Golden State Warriors in the West and Cleveland Cavaliers in the East. If both teams make it to the Finals again, it’s a case of the rich getting richer.

If the Bay Area-Cleveland series come together again, that means Lebron has been to eight straight NBA Finals, led the Cavs to their fourth consecutive Finals and another chance at a fourth NBA championship. The Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals also sounds very familiar as the franchise is chasing their third NBA championship in four years. If the Warriors win it, it will be hard for anyone to argue whether Golden State is a dynasty, it’s more an argument as to how long will the dynasty last.

Boston is Strong and Houston’s Really Big Two

LeBron and Warriors’ opponents aren’t exactly unexpected predictions either.

In the West, the Houston Rockets have worked the last several years to build a team that could break Golden State’s run and this team is the closest to that ideal. Having added an additional play maker in Chris Paul, Houston’s success no longer solely relies on the James Harden’s performance.

On top of that, they have strong talented role players that put in 100% effort every game in Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela. Their weaknesses seems to be the short bench as I’ve just named six players in their regular rotation. Players that got run in the regular season haven’t seen important, consistent playing time in the playoffs: Nene, Gerald Green, and Luc Mbah a Moute could play 20 minutes or never take off their warm ups.

Many also predicted the Boston Celtics to be the biggest threat to Cleveland going into the season. In November, no one would have been shocked to hear that the Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals, but if you followed that accurate prediction up with the fact that they accomplished it without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, it would have come off much less accurate to anyone else.

It’s a pleasant surprise to watch young and hungry Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, rookie Jayson Tatum, veteran Al Horford, and a the never-scared Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris play together without a established superstar leading them. It only projects well for the Celtics especially when Irving and Hayward return.

What Happens to LeBron, the Dubs, Boston, and the Rockets after 2018 NBA Playoffs

Who knows what happens to Cleveland, Golden State, Boston or Houston if they don’t make the NBA Finals this season. Golden State will be a year older, but their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant are still young. No matter where Houston ends up, Paul will be 34 if they make the conference finals again and they’ll need to add two or three more players that they can rely on offensively and defensively, so that their core players don’t get fatigued and can get some rest.

The most at-risk seems to be Cleveland whether they win or lose. As Cleveland slows down, Boston is coming up fast. With the aforementioned Tatum, Brown and Rozier proving they can be handle both the spotlight and scoring burdens coupled with the 33-year old LeBron’s lack of help this off-season — it doesn’t bode that well for Lebron’s legacy or Cleveland. Not past this season and in the near or distant future. That’s because if Boston can keep everyone healthy and keep the young players on their roster when their rookie contracts are up, they’re going to be beasts and favorites for many years to come.