The Final Four

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BallnRoll’s Preview & Predictions for the NBA’s Conference Finals

It has truly been an unpredictable postseason.

With the championship favourites Brooklyn Nets bounced from the playoffs, along with both of the one seeds and LeBron James, we will all need a brief re-calibration period.

These playoffs have truly been exciting and the competition is only set to ramp up even more as we enter the Conference Finals.

Over in the West, the Phoenix Suns will take on the Los Angeles Clippers who miraculously came back from down 2-0 in two straight series to move on. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Cinderella Atlanta Hawks have moved onto the Conference Finals after starting the season at 14-20, becoming the first team in the 21st century to reach the final four without an All-Star. They will take on the Milwaukee Bucks who dispatched the hobbled Brooklyn Nets in a Game 7 thriller.

So without further adieu, let’s jump right into our breakdown and predictions.

Eastern Conference 

How many more surprises are we going to see out of the Atlanta Hawks?

Trae Young has transformed into a superstar in the span of a few weeks and the Hawks young players have absolutely amazed on the biggest stage of basketball.

What Nate McMillan has been able to do with this upstart Hawks team is truly remarkable and with their combination of shooting, playmaking, and interior presence anchored by Clint Capela, the Hawks may very much have one more upset up their sleeve. With that in mind, they are running into a tough Bucks team that absolutely suffocates their competition on the defensive end and behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, Milwaukee will be incredibly tough to stop.

This series will all come down to Young’s ability to play-make and whether the Hawks can hit their perimeter shots. If they can do it on a consistent basis, this series could get interesting, but otherwise, the Bucks are healthy and may have too much talent and experience for the Hawks to handle.

It’s house money against desperation.

Prediction: Bucks in 6

***

Western Conference

(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers

The absence of the stars will be a big talking point throughout this series.

As the Western Conference Finals kicked off, Chris Paul remained out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocol while Kawhi Leonard didn’t travel with the team as he continues to rehab his unspecified Achilles injury. There is no update on when Leonard will return to action, but the belief is that Paul will soon be back after being asymptomatic since testing positive for COVID.

So with that in mind, the Clippers backs are again up against the wall – even more so once Paul returns.

The question now is how much more adversity can the Clippers handle as they go up against a very talented Suns team which ranks in the top-10 in both offense and defense.

To get past the Utah Jazz, Paul George had to explode while the the Clippers shooting was simply unconscious, something you would think would have to regress back to the norm fairly quickly. Meanwhile, the Suns are a well oiled machine who have had very little issues closing out the Los Angeles Lakers in round one and the Denver Nuggets in the second round.

With Leonard’s status for the series up in the air, the end of the line may be nearing for the Clippers.

Prediction: Suns in 6

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