Enough of the pretenders, its finally time for the matchups everyone has been waiting to see. Goodbye Raptors, Jazz, Pelicans and 76ers. Although you may have been fun/interesting to watch… we all knew you weren’t going to make it past the elite teams of the NBA (minus the 76ers… that was sort of a surprise). These 2nd round matchups were extremely boring, as the losing teams combined for a total of 3 wins. 3 stinkin wins. Jazz, Pelicans, and 76ers did their best to compete but came up short, while the Raptors totally fucking embarrassed themselves yet again. The loss resulted in their coach getting fired, which might have been the most exciting thing to happen in basketball these last two weeks. In the end, we find ourselves left with the teams that everyone predicted would be here at the start of the year (sort of…)
Despite injuries, the Warriors are still the most talented and dominant team in the NBA. The combination of Durant, Steph, and Klay might be the deadliest trio in the league. Injuries have plagued them all year, which makes me more confident in this team now! Teams that get hot at the end of the year tend to be holding the trophies when it’s all said and done and this seems to be the case!
The Houston Rockets, led by the duo of James Harden and Chris Paul, have shot the lights out all year and finished atop the Western Conference. They seemed to breeze by the Timberwolves and Jazz in the 1st and 2nd round, but have their biggest competition in front of them. Eric Gordon, Clint Capella, and Trevor Ariza have provided an offensive presence that has allowed Harden/Paul to get better looks.
Cavaliers (LeBron James):
LeBron just kicks the shit out of Eastern Conference teams. Up to this point, he has been more than just the glue holding this team together… he has been the whole team. Kevin Love finally started to find his shot in the last couple games against the Raptors, which is a huge confidence booster moving into this next series. Love, J.R. Smith, and Korver need to build off the confidence from their last series if they are going to be able to compete with the depth of the Celtics. LeBron can do it alone against the Raptors and the Pacers, but how much longer can he keep this up?
After Kyrie Irving went down at the end of the regular season, no one thought that this team would still be able to make it to the conference finals. No Heyward. No Irving. This team was destined to be bounced in the 1st round, but here they are. Brad Stevens is a god. This team has looked prepared for every single game and battles like no other. Scary Terry has been lights out in the 4th quarter, and the depth of Tatum, Brown, Horford, and Smart have been vital to this playoff run.
Eastern Conference Finals
Don’t let the Celtics fool you… they have the pieces. Don’t forget that a lot of people were thinking the 76ers could make it to the finals after the 1st round (Plus the Cavs went to 7 games against the Pacers). But the Celtics shut that shit down so quickly. Not only do the Celtics have the depth to be a Finals team, they also have the coaching to get there. Brad Stevens is clearly the best coach in the playoffs and maybe the best coach in the NBA. Imagine what this series would look like if Irving and Heyward were playing? If Kyrie Irving were in this series, it would be hard for me to not pick the Celtics … but he’s not. And because of that, I have to go with the Cavs. How can you not pick them? Until LeBron proves me wrong, there’s no way I am not going to pick him. LeBron has consistently dominated in the conference finals for like a ridiculous amount of years now. Who the hell is going to stop this man?
How the Celtics can win: There is no shutting down LeBron James. It just doesn’t happen. You can however, frustrate the shit out of him. The Celtics need to throw multiple defenders at him, and that’s what Brad Stevens is going to do. Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris can alternate defending him throughout the game. Hack-A-Shaq his ass. Realistically, the goal is to stop Love, Korver, and JR Smith. By the end of the 2nd round, Love, JR, and Korver started to find a rhythm. If the Celtics want to win, they just need to find a way to stop them. LeBron is going to be LeBron. If you can somehow limit him to 38 points instead of 45… you are doing something right. Eliminate what is around him, and you will see results.
Result: Cavs in 6
Western Conference Finals
There’s no way around this, I just don’t think the Rockets really have what it takes. I get that they finished 1st in the Western Conference. I get that they played the Warriors really well during the regular season. I get that MVP candidate James Harden is paired up with one of the greatest point guards of all-time. But I just don’t give a shit. It’s the Warriors man. If one guy has a bad night, they have another MVP and 2 other all-star players who probably won’t. They get hot at the right time and will find a way to get past the Rockets. Steph looks great coming off of his injury. Durant looks like an MVP. Klay has been phenomenal. Draymond has lockdown defense… and he annoys the shit out of a lot of players and that’s great too. When Steph wasn’t there, the Warriors had the best rated defensive team in the league. They do everything right. I know a lot of people want to pick the Rockets in hopes that they can sound cool but it’s not going to work. It’s something different, and the league is probably cool with another team besides the Cavs and the Warriors, but it ain’t going to happen this year.
How the Rockets can win: Clint Capella and Eric Gordon need to ball out. James Harden and CP3 have enough pressure on them, adding some extra scoring won’t hurt. When things get tough, James Harden can’t do what he normally does either. Harden has bailed when things have fallen on his shoulders and adding CP3 has seemed to help him a lot. They need to have confidence in this series and can’t let the Warriors get hot during a game. The Warriors can come out of a timeout and score 20 on you in the next minute. Somehow… you’re going to need to limit that.
Result: Warriors in 6