Celtics in 6
The Miami Heat have been bubblelicous, sweeping the Pacers and upending the favored Bucks in five games to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. No team has raised their game more at Disney’s Wide World of Sports than the Heat, who were a mid-level playoff team that now looks like a team that can win an NBA Championship. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic each have raised their game to the next level since the playoffs started, averaging over 21 points per game. However, Miami’s success has been team-driven. Bam Adebayo has been money when the game is on the line, averaging 16.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
The Boston Celtics all season have been like a snake in the weeds, waiting for the right time to strike. Sitting with the third seed before the stoppage, they played well during the restart, but once the playoffs have begun, they have shown the ability to be a cold-blooded assessing with their sweep of the 76ers as every game was close until the fourth quarter. The Celtics then needed seven games to dethrone the defending champion Raptors. Jayson Tatum has led the way with 25.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, while Jaylen Brown has averaged 21 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to lead the way. The pair haven proved since they were both rookies the ability to play great in the postseason. Kemba Walker, signed to replace Kyrie Irving, also been solid in the playoffs, giving the Celtics three players who could each take control of the game in the fourth quarter.
One player who could be an x-factor for Boston is Marcus Smart is one of the best defensive players in the league. In their Game 7 win over the Raptors, Smart’s block with one minute left proved to be the critical play, as it prevented Toronto from tying the game and stole momentum away for the Celtics. This ability and the Celtics know how in close games will be the difference as they advance to the NBA Finals for a possible 13th showdown with the Lakers.
Lakers in 4
The Denver Nuggets have made history, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit twice in the same postseason. In the NBA, NHL, and MLB, only three teams have accomplished this feat, including the Nuggets, who joined the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the 2003 Minnesota Wild. Jamal Murray has led the way with 27.1 points per game. Nikola Jokic has also played a significant role with 25.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Jokic tormented the Clippers over the final three games of the second-round series. Jokic’s rebounding was vital for Denver and will be critical if they have a chance to reach the NBA Finals.
The never say die spirit of the Nuggets will face a real challenge as they now have to beat the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James rested and playing at a high level after beating both the Trail Blazers and Rockets in five games. In each series, the Lakers dropped the opener and steamrolled in the final four games. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are both killing it in the playoffs. Davis is averaging 27.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, while LeBron is averaging 26.6 points and 10.3 boards per game. The Lakers are going to be hard to beat if Davis and LeBron go double-double in each game.
The Nuggets are in the Western Conference Finals for the third time in franchise history. Each time they faced a superior Lakers team. This Lakers team has that superior look. Rallying from 3-1 takes its tool, eventually running out of gas. This series will be easy peasy for the Lakers as they will win each game by 20 points and hold double-digit leads from the first quarter on in a snooze fest.