The first round of the NBA playoffs was full of blowouts and I wasn’t even sure that it was worth watching anymore. Then, the second round brought us fantastic games and close finishes and the amount of excitement I have is suddenly through the roof. What does the Conference Finals hold for us?
Western Conference: The Golden State Warriors are the team of destiny. After all, they won 73 games and just about destroyed the rest of the league in the process. In the playoffs, the second round most notably, they’ve seemed vulnerable, as Stephen Curry has only been available for less than half of their games so far. He’s back (and has looked darn good in his return), but you never know if this injury will recur with the physicality of the game.
Meanwhile, everyone was assuming that we’d be on track to see the second-best team in basketball this season, the San Antonio Spurs, face off with the Warriors in this series, which was being termed the “real NBA Finals.” That didn’t fall through as the Oklahoma City Thunder, led by Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and first-year coach Billy Donovan, outmatched and wore out an aging Spurs team. In doing so, the Thunder looked like they could take on anybody.
Normally, I’d easily side with the team of destiny here, but the Thunder are doing something that they haven’t done in a long time: get Durant and Westbrook going at the same time. With that duo locked in, Oklahoma City is one of the league’s best. At the end of the day, though, home-court advantage favors the Warriors and so does the fact that Curry is not missing the big shots in clutch moments of games. That’s a killer trait right there.
Warriors in 7
Eastern Conference: There’s a reason I’m writing this article before the completion of the Miami Heat – Toronto Raptors series: neither one of them can beat their opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs looked magical with their Big 3 all finally healthy in the playoffs and couldn’t miss a shot from beyond the arc in their series against the Atlanta Hawks. With plenty of rest to boot, it’s almost a sure thing they’ll move on to the NBA Finals. I predict the Raptors to beat the Heat, but even then, the home-court advantage in Toronto only adds so much.
Cavs in 6
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten