The NBA playoff conference finals are here and yours truly from the AD report is back with another set of NBA playoff tossup. As you guys know, the Warriors, Cavs, Raptors, and Thunder punched their tickets to the Western/Eastern Conference finals. Some got their tickets punched easier than others but regardless, congrats to those moving on!
I shall follow the same format like I did in my previous two post. Overall, I am 10-2 for my series picks. So hopefully in this round, I end up 12-2 and I have confidence in this. So without wasting more time, let’s start off with the Western Conference Finals.
(1) Golden State Warriors 73-9 vs. (3) Oklahoma City Thunder 55-27The Thunder got the upset over the 67 win San Antonio Spurs in the 2nd round thanks to a myriad of reasons. The brilliance of their dynamic duo Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the adjustments first year coach Billy Donovan has made especially on defense, and the key contributions from Randy Foye, Steven Adams, and Enes Kantar, among other things. Not many expected the Thunder to beat San Antonio. Many don’t expect them to get past the Warriors either. For OKC’s case, they are currently hot with serious momentum and are healthier than the Warriors for what it’s worth. Andrew Bogut is dealing with an abductor strain and is questionable for game one. While Stephen Curry is still a few weeks removed from an MCL strain (this probably does not matter due to the last two Trail Blazer games). Speaking of which, Curry is averaging 35 PPG against the Thunder this year while sporting a 3-0 record. On the flip side, the Thunder’s best player in this series, Kevin Durant is averaging 36 PPG against the Warriors this year. And let’s not forget, in addition to these two, this series features the following, 5 of this year’s all-stars from the west (Draymond, KD, Russ, Klay, Curry), 4 of the past 5 scoring champions (Curry, Russ, KD 2x), 3 of the last 5 MVPs (KD and Curry 2x), and the leaders in triple doubles this year (Draymond and Russ).
I thought initially this series would not be a quick one in favor of the Warriors. However, I do think the Thunder have impressed me enough for this to go deep. I do think on paper, the Warriors should take care of the Thunder. They have strength in bench play, coaching, and in the backcourt (in terms of frontcourt I’d give that edge to OKC). This series has the ingredients of a classic with its star power and loud arenas. OKC has a punchers chance if their role players continue to play well, Billy Donovan continues to make the right decisions, and if KD and Russ go Goku and Vegeta. Golden State will have to of course tighten up defensively (out of the remaining teams left in the playoffs, they’ve allowed the most points per game on average) and be wary of the KD, Adams, Kanter frontcourt (which killed the Spurs). In the end though, The Warriors championship chase continues (And their chase for KD begins).
Warriors in 6
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers 57-25 vs. (2) Toronto Raptors 56-26 In the JV basketball conference, the Cavs are an astounding 8-0 breezing past the likes of the Pistons and the Hawks. On the other hand, the OVO Raptors have been in dogfights against the Pacers and the Heat. The Cavs last played a game of basketball on May 8th. That’s over a week where they’ll be well rested. I’ll give credit to the Raptors. When people thought they were down and out, they clawed back. And even with their starting center Jonas Valanciunas (who has been arguably their best player in these playoffs) was out due to an ankle injury, other guys like Patrick Patterson and Bismack Biyombo have stepped up. Kyle Lowry has played better and their bench has provided energy. The fans have been pretty loyal and optimistic too. Even through the dark times of when head coach Dwane Casey failed to make proper adjustments or when the DeMar DeRozen/Terrance Ross offense made them want to raid the CN Tower.
At the end of game 7 against Miami, Raptor fans chanted “We want Cleveland!” and to be honest, they can want them all they can right? Toronto is 2-1 against Cleveland in the regular season this year and in those wins they’ve held Cleveland to under 100 points. So optimism is a great thing trust me. With that said, Raptor fans will have the luxury of seeing their team lose the series at home this year. Cleveland is coming off a series where they shot 50% from three against the league’s 2nd best defense in Atlanta. Now do I think the Cavs will cool off? Is this team’s recent play some sort of a mirage? Maybe. However, I don’t see a good reason as to why this series goes deep and that’s with or without Valanciunas. I’d say about two things go in the Raptors favor, Kyle Lowry getting the best of Kyrie Irving and the fact that I think Dwane Casey is better for them than Tyron Lue is for Cleveland. Also, I think it’s possible they give Cleveland trouble on the boards. Other than that, they don’t have an answer for LeBron James, Kevin Love and Channing Frye are going to give them issues with their floor spacing ability, and J.R. Smith looks more focused for once. And that’s not good for opponents involved (out of Cleveland’s starters in round 2, he led the team in True Shooting % & Effective FG % with 71% & 73% respectively). The Raptors have had a successful season and I salute them for it. However, with Drake’s album Views receiving mixed reviews, Jose Bautista getting two pieced, and City Councilor Norm Kelly still having a Twitter account, them losing would round out a rough May for the city.
Cavs in 4
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