By Brandon Easler
(1) Houston Rockets vs. (2) Golden State Warriors
This is the matchup that everyone has been waiting for, as this matchup has been expected ever since CP3 went to the Rockets this past offseason. The Rockets and Warriors have gotten here through two 5 game series, with the Rockets taking down the Timberwolves and Jazz and the Warriors defeating the Spurs and Pelicans. These two teams play the game with varying styles, as the Warriors move the ball around like no other team in the NBA and the Rockets are strictly an isolation team with either CP3 or Harden. The Rockets have tried to build their team for this moment, as they have been focused on taking down Golden State since the acquisition of Chris Paul. The Warriors “Hamptons Five” lineup has been deadly this postseason and has been referred to as possibly the best starting 5 in NBA history. I believe that the Rockets will struggle to guard KD and Draymond, and I am just not sure if Harden and CP3 can outscore Curry and Klay enough to offset the huge numbers that Durant will likely put up. Even though the Rockets have the higher seed, Golden State is clearly the favorite in this series as they have gotten out of the West three years in a row. I see them getting to the Finals again, as my prediction for this series is Warriors in 6.
(2) Boston Celtics vs. (4) Cleveland Cavaliers
In the East we have a rematch of last years’ Conference Finals, but both teams are very different this year and have almost completely overhauled rosters. The Celtics are a young up and coming team, and I have been impressed with what they have been able to do with their two best players on the sidelines. Rozier, Horford, Tatum, and Brown have been big time in the playoffs, and role players like Smart, Baynes, and Morris have stepped up. They play lockdown defense, but this series will feature a new task for this Celtics team. This task is trying to defend the freight train that is LeBron James. LeBron is averaging an astonishing 34.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, and 9 APG this postseason, which arguably might be his best postseason of his 15-year career. LeBron’s teammates also finally stepped up against the top-seeded Raptors. Love, Korver, J.R., and Hill need to once again have good scoring outputs and to continue swinging the ball with confidence like they did in the previous series. If the Celtics had Kyrie and Hayward, then I believe they would dethrone LeBron as king of the East this year. However, with both of them injured I see the Cavs being able to get past the Celtics in 6 games.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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