With the NBA Conference Finals set, we will see a rematch of last years Eastern Conference Finals, with the Cleveland Cavaliers taking on a strong Boston Celtics squad, and in the west, the reigning NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors, will face off with the number one seed Houston Rockets, led by potential MVP James Harden.
LeBron James is tearing through the Eastern Conference single handedly, as usual. James is averaging 34.4 points per game, with the next leading scorer being Kevin Love at 14.7 points per game. James is taking the grunt of the work for his Cleveland Cavaliers squad, which may be a problem in the long run if this series goes any more than five games.
James is also playing 41 minutes per game, which would wear any other NBA player out, but for James, this is nothing out of the ordinary. If the Cavaliers plan on doing any real damage against a extremely hot Boston Celtics team and whoever comes out of the Western conference, players like JR Smith, Kevin Love, George Hill, and Kyle Korver need to step up and take some of the load off of James’ back.
Boston on the other hand has been playing extremely well as of late. Although the Celtics lost both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward due to injury, the supporting cast of Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, and rookie Jayson Tatum, paired with potential Coach of The Year Brad Stevens, the Celtics may be able to stop James and his reign over the Eastern Conference.
After a hard fought series against the Philadelphia 76ers and Rookie of The Year candidate Ben Simmons, the Celtics proved that their style of play would limit a star player’s contribution to the team, which can easily translate to the next series against the Cavaliers.
Al Horford will be the deciding factor in this series for Boston, mainly because the Cavaliers are weak in the paint defensively, so the matchup between Horford and Tristan Thompson will be interesting to watch play out over the course of the series.
In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors are up to their same old tricks. Even with point guard Stephen Curry gone all of the first round, and part of the second, the Warriors have only lost two games thus far. Draymond Green has been playing out of his mind lately, leading his team in all categories besides scoring. With Curry finally healthy, Kevin Durant scoring the way he has been as of late, and Green doing the dirty work, the Warriors will have no problem getting past the Rockets, and hopefully back-to-back NBA titles, something this franchise has never done.
I am definitely not counting Houston out. With the addition of Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, it seems like they may finally have the firepower to take down Golden State. This Rockets squad was bred solely to beat the Warriors in the post season, so it will be interesting to see how this series will play out. James Harden is having a MVP caliber season, so I expect him to put up at least 25 to 30 points per game, but it will be on his teammates shoulders to limit Curry, Durant, and Thompson offensively to keep their title hopes in tact.
Now if they somehow get past the Warriors and make it to the NBA Finals, will they be ready for whoever sneaks out of the east? Who knows, but as a fan of the game, this Rockets/Warriors series has the potential to go the distance of seven games.
With that being said, this years NBA playoffs is up for debate. There is no clear favorite this year, which is a relief, because in the past, Golden State and Cleveland have ran through their respective divisions and met in the finals three years in a row.
Will LeBron James make his eight straight finals appearance? On the other hand, will we see a shift of power in the east, led by a hot Celtics team? Will we see Golden State go back-to-back for the first time in franchise history? Or will we see Chris Paul and James Harden come together and take down the powerhouse Golden State Warriors?
Who knows, but as a fan of the game, I cannot wait to see who will be crowned the 2017-2018 NBA Champions.