After going 3-for-4 in my Round 2 Predictions ( damn you Washington), the expected has been delivered, and we’re into the Conference Finals. Will we get the much anticipated Cleveland – Golden State III?
Pretty much… pic.twitter.com/7peYcmRbxh
— BLACK ADAM SCHEFTER (@B1ackSchefter) May 12, 2017
First, we dive into the East, with one team that is well-rested, and another that barely survived.
#1 Boston Celtics v #2 Cleveland Cavaliers
Has a #1 seed ever been such an underdog?
Boston survived a grueling 7 game series with the Washington Wizards, with the Canadian sensation Kelly Olynyk providing some big offence to support Isaiah Thomas. John Wall went cold in the 4th quarter, and the Celtics advanced to play the defending World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Let that marinate for a moment. World Champion = Cleveland. Still seems out of place, doesn’t it?
Cleveland barely needed to take off their warmup duds, as they ran over the Toronto Raptors in 4 straight. The sweep was so dominating that “We The North” is re-examining its entire culture. Kyle Lowry is opting out, and some people would be happy to see him sign elsewhere. The Raptors openly admitted there’s no beating the King right now… not an extreme statement.
So, do the Celtics have a shot of breaking LeBron’s record streak to the Finals? No! But let’s pretend.
Thomas will have to be even more spectacular; maybe the 5’9” (and that’s a stretch) guard will average 40ppg. Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart will have to shut down Kyrie Irving, and outscore him in the process. Olynyk will have to avoid putting Kevin Love in another armbar. But, who guards LeBron?
James is playing at a historical level right now. There are open debates in mainstream sports media on him vs Michael Jordan for the best EVER. He’s toying with the competition, beer sipping (almost). Ball spinning, passing, slicing, blocking, dunking, he’s doing it all at elite levels. The NBA is his playground.
LeBron James Pretends to Drink Beer🍺During Game 1 Win Over The Raptors pic.twitter.com/bLpB0CufvJ
— SportsCast (@SportsCast_THN) May 2, 2017
Cleveland is getting contributions from all over the roster, as they continue to swing the ball and bomb away. All the shooters are opening up the lane for some monstrous jams, and when a shot is missed, Tristan Thompson is there to clean up the mess.
Sadly, The only way Boston wins this series is if LeBron decides to retire immediately and go into production for Space Jam 2.
The Celtics may gut out a Game 3 win, but the Eastern Conference belongs to The King. It’s 7 straight Finals for LeBron.
Prediction: Cleveland in 5
#1 Golden State Warriors v #2 San Antonio Spurs
I hate how the NBA starts a round before the previous round is done; it messes with my mind. Scheduling this Game 1 before the Celtics / Wizards Game 7 seems strange and unnatural. Having the Western Conference Game 1 before this was written obviously gives some significant insight as to how the series will play out.
Coming into these playoffs, I felt that the Spurs were in an excellent position to knock off the Warriors. But, one ankle roll has changed the course of this matchup. Ankle sprains suck. They just don’t heal right.
San Antonio advanced by shutting down the Rockets in 6, as James Harden went AWOL at the end of the series. But, the 2nd round took its toll. Kawhi Leonard’s initial ankle rollover in Game 5 has created chaos. The #1 option on offence and defence is an injury risk every time he leaves his feet, and couldn’t survive 3 quarters of action. Losing Tony Parker for the rest of the playoffs against Houston has also messed with the minutes and rotation of the guard play.
Coach Popovich seems even more ornery than usual. When he’s not talking about Donald Trump, or He Who Shall Not Be Named, he’s now talking about players on the other team being dirty (#FreeZaza!). Perhaps he knows that, even with his masterful coaching, it’s a hill too steep to climb without his Top-3 MVP candidate on crutches for the short and possibly long term.
Golden State took care of business in the state of (no) nightlife, sweeping the Utah Jazz. At least the Jazz made them sweat. Gordon Hayward continues to set himself up for a big payday when his free agency becomes a reality.
The Warriors are rested and healthy. Steph Curry is shooting with reckless abandon once again. Kevin Durant is taking the ball aggressively to the rim. Klay Thompson is waiting to unload another 25 point quarter. Draymond Green is waiting to unload a gun in the middle of the arena (ok, maybe not, but does that really feel like a stretch?).
Missing Steve Kerr from the sidelines doesn’t seem to be hurting the team. They’ve built such a solid foundation, that the players and coaches all know what they need to do, when they need to do it.
Still, the Spurs will not “roll-over”. Despite the injury, the Warriors barely escaped Game 1 with a win. San Antonio will battle every game. They are very capable of stealing Game 2, and will no doubt win a game when the series swings back to The Alamo for Games 3 & 4.
But Golden State is simply too stacked and too healthy right now for a wounded San Antonio roster to compete. Pre-injuries to Kawhi and Tony, I had the Spurs in 7. But now…
Prediction: Warriors in 6
And now we all get the Finals we truly want.
Cavaliers v Warriors. Lebron v Durant. Irving v Steph.
I’m salivating at the thought. Cue the Rubber Match, and monster TV ratings.