Where are we Now?
The NBA playoffs are coming down the stretch towards the NBA finals and after Tuesday nights matchup between the Clippers and the Nuggets, only four teams remain.
Those four teams are the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Denver Nuggets. The Heat and the Celtics have already kicked off their series with the Heat taking game 1 in a thrilling overtime win. As the heat took the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Denver Nuggets fought their way into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years. Coming into the Conference Finals are four extremely talented teams, although most people think that the Lakers have no competition and will win the finals easily. As the season ended and we entered the playoffs, most people anticipated a Lakers versus Clippers matchup in the Western Conference Finals and for the Milwaukee bucks to at least make the Eastern Conference Finals. We are now coming into the third round of the playoffs after many emotional games. The Milwaukee Bucks shocked everyone when they got easily eliminated by the Miami Heat. The Bucks were the biggest shocker in the Eastern Conference but in the Western Conference, the Clippers surprised everyone. Coming into the bubble, many people thought of the Clippers as a more talented team than the Lakers and ultimately the best team in the Western Conference. The Clippers started off the playoffs strong, defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six games. The Clippers continued their good stretch of play into the West semi-finals, where they quickly took a 3-1 lead on the Nuggets. Despite the Clippers being within reach of the Conference Finals, they gave the Nuggets way too many chances, leading to the Nuggets beating them three games in a row and eliminating them from playoff contention. You hopefully now understand what has gotten us to the point we are at in the playoffs. Once again, there are four teams remaining and a lot of good basketball to be played.
The Miami Heat are now considered the favorites to win the Eastern Conference Finals and for good reason. The Heat have been on an extremely hot stretch, winning nine out of ten of their playoff games. The Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, are facing the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1. The Milwaukee Bucks were considered the most likely team to make the NBA finals coming into the playoffs, but with the injury of Giannis Antetokounmpo, they fell to the Miami Heat in only the conference semifinals. There’s not much to say about the Miami Heat besides the fact that they are certainly the hottest team in the league right now and that most everyone would pick them to beat the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Once again, the Heat are led by star player, Jimmy Butler. Butler has shined bright throughout his NBA career, but has really made a name for himself throughout this postseason. On top of Jimmy Butler, the Heat have Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. After two average seasons to begin his career, Bam Adebayo is really evolving into a potential all-star and he could very well help the Heat reach the finals. The final player that could largely impact the Eastern Conference finals is sharpshooter, Tyler Herro. Herro has had a magnificent season thus far and I can see him rising up to the occasion in this series. All in all, I believe that the Heat will sweep Boston and easily find their way into the NBA finals for the first time since 2014.
The Boston Celtics are the final team to be evaluated regarding their chances to make the NBA finals. As I’m sure most people suspected, the Celtics are the least likely to make the finals of the remaining teams. The Celtics came into the playoffs very hot, leading them to sweep the 76ers. After easily knocking out the 76ers, the Celtics moved on to the defending champions in the Toronto Raptors. Throughout the series versus the Raptors, the Boston Celtics were very inconsistent. The Celtics had multiple games where they blew out the Raptors and they had a couple of games where they were blown out by the raptors. Despite their consistency struggles, the Celtics managed to defeat the defending champions in 7 games, allowing them to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will take on the Miami Heat. The Celtics have actually already played their first game against the Miami Heat and they lost in dramatic fashion. The game went into overtime. The excitement lasted to the last seconds of the game where the Miami Heat narrowly won. There are a few key players that could allow for the Celtics to regain control of the series. The first player is Kemba Walker. Walker signed with the Celtics last season and has not quite lived up to the expectations. Despite that, Kemba could certainly return to his Hornets form in the conference finals, contributing to a Celtics win. Another player who could be a key piece for the Celtics is Jayson Tatum. Tatum is one of the most talented players on the Celtics and if he plays how he has played throughout the playoffs so far, he could have a significant impact on the outcome of the series. The final player who will be very impactful on the results of the Eastern Conference Finals is Jaylen Brown. Jaylen Brown has really grown as a player over the last few seasons but has not shown his value in the playoffs yet. If Brown can catch fire in this series, the Heat better watch out. Although game one of the series was an extremely exciting game, I do not believe the rest of the games will be that way. I think that the Miami Heat will win the next three games against the Boston Celtics, extending their playoff record to 12-1 and allowing themselves to make the NBA finals for the first time since 2014. Despite the Boston Celtics extremely talented team, the Miami Heat are way too hot to handle for the remainder of the Eastern Conference Finals in which the Boston Celtics will have to wait another season before they can try to make the NBA Finals again.
**** Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: Western Conference Finals Evaluation
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