By: Nick Pooler
Through four days of NBA basketball this past week, we have four teams vying for two spots in the NBA finals. In the West, we have the 1 seed Houston Rockets versus the 2 seed Golden State Warriors. After two games we find that series tied at 1 apiece. These two teams were expected to be where they are. Both teams have superstar talent and both had the highest chances at making it out of the West. When you take Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Chris Paul, James Harden, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon and put them all in the same series, you can expect fireworks.
This series has been interesting so far in the first two games. In game 1, it was all Durant who scored 37 points. He had the help of Thompson who dropped in 28. The Warriors took game 1 by a score of 119-106 despite James Harden scoring 41 points. One interesting thing about this Warriors team is they have 3 centers on the roster; Jordan Bell, Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee. They have played a combined 10 minutes in two games so far. It is all about small ball for them and they are showing that for sure.
Game 2 was a different story. The Warriors starting lineup had a combined plus/minus of -118. Gordon and Harden each had 27 apiece and an unusual suspect PJ Tucker poured in 22 points to help them cruise to a 127-105 victory. This series in my opinion is going to go seven games. All you heard out of the media after game 1 was that the Rockets were going to get swept and they had no chance against the Warriors who have been to 3 straight NBA Finals and look to keep it going for a fourth. As for the Rockets; Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela and James Harden were all members of the 2015 conference finals team that looks to get revenge on the Warriors who beat them 4-1 in that series 3 years ago. This series will continue to be entertaining and while we have yet to see a close game through 2 games, my prediction is Warriors in 7.
Out on the East side we have the 2 seed Boston Celtics versus the 4 seed Cleveland Cavaliers. This series was one that was so unpredictable it wasn’t even funny. You have the LeBron James led Cav’s going up against a Celtics team without the services of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. And so far after 2 games, the Celtics are up 2-0 in the series.
This is the second year in a row that the Celtics are in the Conference Finals and “shouldn’t be here”. I believe there comes a time when fans should realize that they should be here and obviously are better than 13 other teams in the East. Led by coach Brad Stevens who was lured away from Butler University, the Celtics find themselves up 2-0 against the Cavaliers.
One argument that I wanted to look at right here is about LeBron not having any help. In game 1, LeBron scored 15 points and was absolutely shut down by Marcus Morris. Kevin Love was the leading scorer for the Cavs with 17. In game 2, LeBron had a massive triple-double and Love chimed in with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Yes, I will admit that those two are running a two man show unless JR Smith and Kyle Korver are knocking down every three they take. But could it be that they are just terrible at defense? In game 1, they let three different Celtics score above 20 points. Two of them just so happened to be getting guarded by Love and James.
The Cavaliers are just outmatched and besides Love and James, there is nobody to be seen. This team is so unpredictable simply because they went seven with the Pacers and swept the Raptors. Going into this, it was expected that James and the Cavs would ride right in and go back to the finals. But after two games it is looking otherwise. I do expect the Cavaliers to win a game in Cleveland and split with Boston. My prediction is Celtics in five. The combination of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Terry Rozier is no longer about not being as talented as other rosters. It is now time to say that this team is ready to compete and will put up with anything in their way. I could not even imagine this team with Irving and Hayward right now.