Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Conference Championships in the NBA Playoffs, so why don’t I take a shot at predicting how those (and the ensuing Finals) will turn out? And while the chic picks may be the Celtics and the Rockets, I would tend to think otherwise…
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
Listen, no one wants the Celtics to win this series more than me, but the unfortunate truth is they face the best player in the NBA (who also happens to be the best team-carrier around). Gordon Hayward went out early enough that his departure didn’t make a huge difference, and we all but dismissed Boston when Kyrie Irving got bitten by the injury bug as well. However, these team has done a great job going from focusing on star play to sharing the wealth amongst a slew of talented youngsters. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been athletic playmaking energizing balls of fire on the wings, and Terry Rozier has (basically) turned into Kyrie 2.0. Al Horford somehow turned himself into the best three point shooter in the NBA, and Brad Stevens has once again shown he is one of the best coaching minds there is (despite not receiving a single vote for Coach of the Year). On the Cleveland side of things, LeBron James. Kyle Korver and Kevin Love do a good job spacing around him and hitting spot up threes, and the rest of the team is just good enough to not suck. I still question the validity of Tyronn Lue’s coaching, but I guess I can’t harsh on the guy too much if he keeps getting to the Finals.
Prediction: Cleveland (I don’t like to guess the amount of games)
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets
How could you not pick Houston?...Oh right, the best team in the NBA….those guys. The Warriors have been the best dynasty in the NBA for a few years now, and there’s no reason to believe that status will be diminished anytime soon. Houston is literally trying to beat Golden State at their own game...ask the rest of the NBA how that’s worked out….Props to Chris Oaul for being one of the best players in the NBA this year, and props to the rest of the non-shooting guards on the Rockets. Winning 65 games is no small task, and I give them all the credit in the world. It’s just that they are playing one of the best teams in history that, according to the magnificent Zach Lowe, is 24-3 in the playoffs since Kevin Durant joined the club. But hey, second place isn’t so bad…
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors
LeBron James is an amazing player, but so is Stephen Curry….and Kevin Durant….and Klay Thompson….and Draymond Green. LeBron has been hard carrying this team for the entire season, but when you face an opponent of such high caliber it really requires a team effort. Both Lue and James might very well be on their way out, and the Warriors are looking at possibly their easiest Finals yet.