NBA Conference Finals Preview
May 16, 2019
This NBA playoff has been full of excitement. From series ending buzzer-beaters to dominant team performances, these playoffs have been one to remember. Players like Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are leading their teams with incredible individual statistics, but it is once again a battle to beat the Golden State Warriors this year. As the conference finals are set to go underway, here is a preview of the 2 remaining matchups. In the east, the Gasol brothers take on one another, with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors. In the west, it is the Curry brothers taking on each other, with the Golden State Warriors playing against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers
It’s the Conference Finals again in the West, and hearing the name “Golden State” seems like a broken record. The Warriors have now made 5 straight Conference Finals, winning all of them so far. After taking care of a fire-filled Houston Rockets team in 6 games, the injury-struck Warriors get ready to take on a motivated underdog in the Portland Trail Blazers. With stars Kevin Durant and Demarcus Cousins expected to return this series, as well as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson performing at all-star levels, Golden State is once again a favorite.
Although the Warriors don’t look like they are slowing down any time soon, neither do the Portland Trail Blazers. After losing 4-0 in the first round in 2018, the Trail Blazers came into this year’s playoffs hungry to win, and win is what they did. After taking down the 6th seed Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games, and the 2nd seed Denver Nuggets in a close-knit 7 games, the 3rd seeded Trail Blazers get ready to match up with the 1st seeded Warriors. Portland has been performing at high offensive rates, led by star tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Lillard has averaged 28 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds over the first 2 rounds of the playoffs. Aside from his stats, Lillard put up a 37-foot buzzer beater in game 5 of the first round, putting the Oklahoma City Thunder away. Lillard’s co-star, CJ McCollum, has averaged 26 points, 3.5 assists and 5 rebounds over his first 2 rounds, including a mid-range shot late in game 7 of round 2, sending the Denver Nuggets home and winning the series.
Both of these teams have asserted their dominance in these playoffs, and as good as Golden State is, this will be an interesting matchup.
PREDICTION: Golden State in 5.
Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks.
With Lebron James out of the east and the playoffs, a new team will be crowned champion of the east this year.
The top-seeded team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks, head to the Conference Finals with the top record in the playoffs at 9-1. After sweeping the Detroit Pistons, the Bucks headed to the second round to face the Kyrie Irving-led Boston Celtics. After losing game one 112-90, many thought the series was over. Buck’s star Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to 22 points on 7-21 shooting. However, determined to lead his team and prove his MVP case, Antetokounmpo put up 30 points per game in 4 straight wins to turn the series around, sending Boston home with complications about their star Kyrie Irving heading into free agency. Milwaukee has had mostly ups this season and will test their roster’s deepness this series.
The Toronto Raptors head into this series after a miraculous game 7 winners by all-star Kawhi Leonard. Leonard put up historic numbers in round 2, putting up 34.7 points per game in a tough 7 game series win. Headed to this series, Toronto is determined to finally get over the hump that is the eastern conference finals. Reaching their 2nd conference finals in 4 years, the newly improved Raptors look to make the finals for the first time in this era.
Both teams have had great success this season and will have to continue their success in order to reach the finals.
PREDICTION: Toronto in 7.
The 2019 NBA playoffs have been one to remember. As rounds passed, teams have asserted their dominance, and many stars have proved that they are capable of these big moments. These two matchups bring a lot of excitement and anticipation to fans. The Golden State Warriors have a chance to win their third straight championship but will have to begin their series without their star, Kevin Durant. As for Toronto, Milwaukee, and Portland, they are fighting to knock off the proven champions.