NBA Final Four: Who Plays for the Trophy?

Michael Markoch

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UNITED STATES- After two full rounds of playoff basketball, it is time for the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.  There are so many storylines to cover and so little space in this article, so let’s get right into it.

 

Eastern Conferences: #1 Seed- Milwaukee Bucks vs #2 Seed- Toronto Raptors

How Did They Get Here:  The Bucks have had one of the easier roads throughout these playoffs, led by superstar and MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, sweeping (winning four straight in a best-of-seven) the first round series against Detroit and then handily defeating the 4th seeded Boston Celtics in five games after losing game one by over twenty points.  

The Raptors, on the other hand, have had more than their fair share of struggles to begin.  Toronto lost their first game of the postseason to the seventh-seeded Orlando Magic, before disposing of them in five games.  Then, in round two against the Philadelphia 76ers, the series went the full distance of seven games before the Raptors won on a buzzer-beating shot by Kawhi Leonard.

 

Matchup to Watch- Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) vs Kawhi Leonard (TOR).

Antetokounmpo has arguably been the most unstoppable offensive player this entire season, but Leonard is arguably the best wing defender in the league and if there is anyone who can stop Antetokounmpo, it’s Leonard.  This offense vs defense battle will be the deciding factor in this series.

 

Prediction- I picked the Raptors to start these playoffs, however I didn’t think the Bucks would look as good as they have.  However, I’m sticking to my prediction, Kawhi Leonard is playing on another level and is currently the most clutch player left in these playoffs, give me the Raps.  Raptors in six games.

 

Western Conference Finals: #1 Seed Golden State Warriors vs #3 Seed Portland Trail Blazers

How Did They Get Here: What do you know? The Warriors are back in the Conference Finals, but this year is different, there are obvious chinks in their armor.  This team plays down to their competition, and it showed in round one versus the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, where the series lasted six games and involved multiple Warrior meltdowns.  

However, in their second round series, they played much better as they dispatched the Houston Rockets in six games.  The Warriors will enter these Conference Finals without a 100% healthy Kevin Durant, so it will be interesting to see how this series plays out.  

The Trail Blazers have experienced many doubts and skeptics throughout their playoff run, and rightfully so based on past years.  However, the Blazers have answered these questions in loud fashion, winning two thrilling series over the sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and the second-seeded Denver Nuggets.

Everyone wants to talk about Damian Lillard’s 37-foot buzzer beater to clinch the series against the Thunder, and who wouldn’t? Just watch it for yourself.  However, the play of C.J. McCollum and other role players like Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, and Evan Turner can not go unnoticed.  This team is so fun to watch and viewers should expect nothing less in this series against the almighty Warriors.

 

Matchup to Watch: Stephen Curry (GSW) vs Damian Lillard (POR)

This is a matchup of offensive firepower as neither player is known for their defensive skills.  I just want to see Curry and Lillard trading 30 foot heaves and listening to the crowd erupt as they trade blows with each other.  As the saying goes, “anything you can do I can do better,” and that may be a prominent saying with these two on the same court.

 

Prediction: I want to think this series will go six games, I’m hoping for all basketball fans that it will.  However, it’s the Warriors and they just have all the pieces that you need along with being the two-time defending champions.  I think Curry steps up while Durant tries to get fully healthy and the Warriors get back to the NBA Finals for an unprecedented fifth straight year.  Warriors in five games.

 

PC: Schalk and Adams, NBA Conference Finals

 

Works Cited

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2835918-video-kawhi-leonards-epic-game-7-buzzer-beater-bounces-4-times-drops-for-win

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2832825-video-watch-damian-lillard-eliminate-thunder-with-deep-buzzer-beater-3

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