We have advanced to the Final Four of the NBA season. Let’s take a look at the Eastern and Western Conference Finals picks and predictions.
Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Preview: The Celtics and the Cavaliers were both preseason favorites to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Both teams reached the destination, but the path was difficult and strange for each team. The Celtics will be playing without their two stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, while the Cavaliers completely overhauled their roster at the trade deadline. This will be a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
The Boston Celtics just continue to overcome adversity, but now face their biggest challenge of the season in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston coach, Brad Stevens is quickly rising up the ranks of top NBA coaches with his ability to gameplan and put his team in a position to win. The Celtics will do their best to make someone other than LeBron beat them in this series. Jaylen Brown and Semi Ojeleye will get most of the work in trying to stop James, but the Celtics will throw defenders at him all season. The Celtics have six players averaging double figures in these playoffs, with Jayson Tatum (18.8 ppg) leading the way.
It appears that LeBron James is playing at his highest level, and has been unstoppable so far in these 2018 playoffs. James is averaging a whopping 34.3 points per game in the playoffs and has been clutch in late game situations. The Cavs know that the Celtics will look to double team James often, and the supporting players of the Cavaliers will have to step up. Kevin Love has been inconsistent throughout these playoffs, but will have to be a force in this series if the Cavs want to advance. The Cavaliers have been in this situation before, and when things get tough, they will turn to LeBron to lead them.
Pick: The Celtics will be ready to defend LeBron, but they are still in for a tough task. Boston having homecourt gives them a slight advantage in this series, but it won’t be enough. LeBron is on a mission and he won’t be stopped. Cavaliers win the series in 6 games.
Western Conference: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors
Preview: This is the matchup that everyone wanted in the West; the Houston Rockets vs. the Golden State Warriors. The Rockets were able to have the best regular season record, but the Warriors are the defending champs. There is a ton of starpower in this series, with both teams having future Hall of Famers. This should be a high scoring, ultra competitive series.
The Houston Rockets were clearly the best team in the NBA during the regular season. Potential MVP, James Harden is playing at a high level and might be the best scorer in the NBA at this point in his career. Chris Paul will be playing in his first conference finals with the Rockets, after failing to reach this round with the Clippers. The Rockets chances might hinge on the play of center, Clint Capela. Capela anchors the Rockets defense, and Houston will have to find a way to stop the explosive Warriors offense.
Golden State has been here before and they know what it takes to reach the NBA Finals. Stephen Curry has returned from his knee injury and has played in enough games to get rid of all rust. Kevin Durant has led the Warriors in scoring during these playoffs, averaging 28.0 points per game. The Warriors also have a terrific bench that allows them to keep the pressure on the Rockets defense even when the starters are getting rest.
Pick: This series should be an instant classic and will likely go 7 games. These two teams will score a ton of points all series and the pace should be extremely fun to watch. The series will come down to which team can stop the other team when it matters most. The Warriors take pride in their defense, and it will be the key factor. The defending champs will knock off the Rockets and set up a rematch with the Cavs. Warriors win the series in 7 games.