NBA Conference Finals Preview

NBA Conference Finals Preview

Photo Courtesy Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. By Chensiyuan

Jack Garrigus, Editor-in-Chief

The NBA Bubble has led to one of the most unpredictable NBA finals ever. Upset after upset has led to a combination of remaining teams no one expected. After an exciting finish to the semi-finals, the stage is finally set for the final four teams. Let’s meet our conference finalists.

First up is the Miami Heat. Led by Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo, they lack the traditional star power of most playoff teams. They are one of the biggest dark horses coming out of the East, but they are not playing like one. Their 10-1 playoff record thus far is tied for second best in NBA history with the 1996 Chicago Bulls among others. The Heat made quick work of their first round opponent Pacers, sweeping them in four games.

Up next on the slate was the championship-favorite Milwaukee Bucks led by back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo. The Bucks had a fantastic regular season record of 56-17, good enough for the overall number one seed in the NBA. This matchup didn’t faze the Heat, who beat them in only five games. They entered the Eastern Conference Finals matched up with the Boston Celtics, who were just coming off a Game 7 win over the Raptors. After being Vegas underdogs in both matchups, the Heat are now two wins away from the NBA Finals.

The Heat are matching up against the Boston Celtics. Led by young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown coupled with stud PG Kemba Walker, the Celtics were a sneaky title pick in 2020. After sweeping the 76ers in the first round, they were pitted against the defending champion Raptors. Even after blowing a 2-0 lead to the well-coached Raptors squad, they eventually won a very close Game 7 to match up against the Miami Heat.

They barely lost a very competitive Game 1 that went to OT. In Game 2, the Celtics went into halftime up 13 points, leading by as many as 17. A full-blown collapse in the third quarter made the game very competitive late into the 4th quarter, but the Heat ultimately prevailed. The Celtics desperately need to win Game 3 to stay in the hunt for their first title since 2008.

The Lakers are the most predictable of the Conference Finals participants. Led by Lebron James and new teammate Anthony Davis, many people picked them to win the whole thing. Lebron James is in the debate for best player of all time, and he is playing no different in his 17th season.

The Lakers dropped Game 1 of their opening round matchup to Damian Lillard and the Blazers, albeit in a close game. The next four games were not as close, as the Lakers won handily each time. The same pattern continued in Round 2 with the James Harden-led Rockets stealing Game 1 before getting routed the next four. The Lakers are rested and ready to face the Cinderella Denver Nuggets to reach Lebron’s 10th NBA Finals.

The Denver Nuggets are breaking records and having fun on their way to a matchup with the superstar Lakers. Big man Nikola Jokic and PG Jamal Murray are blossoming into superstars on the world’s biggest stage.

They started off the playoffs pretty rough to the tune of down 3-1 to the Utah Jazz. As one could guess, they made an improbable comeback to a clutch victory in Game 7 to propel them to the next round. Jamal Murray was fantastic, averaging over 31 points a game for the series.

However, most thought this victory was short lived because it meant a daunting series with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clips, led by Paul George, Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrel, and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, were thought to be the most talented overall team in the NBA. They played like it initially, pounding the Nuggets to a 3-1 deficit early.

Game 5, however, started a brutal trend of blown leads. In Games 5-7, the Clippers led by double digits each time, including a 19 point lead in Game 6, only to collapse in the second half. Game 7 was just embarrassing, after the Clips blew a 16 point second half lead to lose by 15. The Nuggets have shocked the world, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from multiple 3-1 deficits in one playoff run. They are looking for respect as they come in as an underdog once again to face the Lakers.

Predictions: Heat in 7 and Lakers in 5. The Miami Heat are crowned champions after beating Lebron’s Lakers in just 6 games.