Warriors-Rockets, Cavaliers-Celtics Breakdown and Predictions
The time has finally arrived.
We have waited all season for this dream matchup, and at long last, it is coming to fruition. The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors will take on their toughest challenge to date in the Houston Rockets. Meanwhile out in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics look to slow down the Cleveland Cavaliers, and stop LeBron James from reaching yet another NBA Finals.
What is a stake for all four teams is a trip to the NBA Finals to compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. In what will surely be a fun ride, the Conference Finals will boast two highly competitive matchups, both of which will see some of the game’s best go at each other for a chance to play in the final round.
How will the Conference Finals shake out? Who will advance forward and fight for chance at raising the NBA’s biggest prize?
(1) Houston Rockets vs. (2) Golden State Warriors
Very early on in the season, the Rockets and Warriors separated themselves from the pack.
Clearly the two best teams in the entire NBA, it was only a matter of time before the two teams would finally meet in the Conference Finals. The expected has become a reality and on Monday night, the two Western Conference powerhouses will square off in Houston.
While the Rockets took two of three from the Warriors during the regular season, this is a completely different Warriors team, one that has gotten increasingly bored with the rigours of an 82-game schedule and one that has earned the right to set its focus solely on the playoffs – and in the playoffs, they have looked like the reigning champions that they are. On the backs of their “death line-up” consisting of the healthy Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors may have the most feared starting five, really in NBA history.
An offensive juggernaut, the Warriors can also dig in on defense as evident in their first two series. Often looking lazy on the defensive end at certain parts of the regular season, the Dubs are now locked in and really have all the pieces necessary to at the very least slow down Chris Paul and James Harden. The key of course will be for Thompson to keep Harden on the perimeter and to contain the Rockets shooters.
But if the Rockets continue to be the best shooting team in the NBA and outwork the Warriors on hustle plays, the Rockets may become the team to dethrone the champs. While the Warriors have the pieces to defend the Rockets, Paul, P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, and Luc Mbah a Moute are all very serviceable defenders while Clint Capela holds down the paint.
Ultimately, with added pressure, the Warriors will be more locked in than in any of their previous matchups with the Rockets over the regular season, spelling what will be a tough end to the series for the Rockets. Warriors Win Series in 7
(2) Boston Celtics vs. (4) Cleveland Cavaliers
Can any Eastern Conference team really beat King James?
The Boston Celtics will hope to get their revenge for last year’s Eastern Conference Finals humiliation. One of the main issues the Celtics will face is that they continue to be in survivor mode, grinding away trying to overcome all the injuries that they have been facing throughout their playoff run. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are playing their best brand of basketball all season.
After dismantling the Toronto Raptors for a second year in a row, the Cavaliers have been able to get James his rest and refuel him for round three. While in the second round, the supporting cast has come to life, LeBron continues to be the focal point of this team’s entire offence. Everything revolves around the superstar while everyone else simply needs to make shots. This being said, the Celtics cannot afford to double team James, as silly as that may sound. James can take anyone in the world one-on-one, but the second he is able to draw a double team, he will find an open man along the perimeter to drop a three-pointer.
Of course it would be ideal for the Cavaliers shooters to go ice cold from long range, but the Celtics will need to continue to dig in on defence and to make the Cavs feel uncomfortable on offence. The physicality must get amped up and every possession should be a trying one for the Cavaliers. Lastly, the Celtics must find a way to limit each Cavs possession to one shot by keeping Tristan Thompson off the offensive glass.
Easier said than done and while it is impossible to ever count Head Coach Brad Stevens out, this matchup may be too tall a task for even the game’s brightest coach to solve. Cavaliers Win Series in 5