The 2019 NBA playoffs have been one for the books. From Dame dolla’s game-winning three against the Warriors to Kawhi’s last second buzzer beater to knock the Sixers out. The playoffs are better than ever and showed basketball fans that the league can survive without King James.
Both conference championship series are in full swing and ill give you my prediction on which team has the best chance of making it to the finals and winning.
Kawhi vs. Giannis. This matchup won’t attract the casual fan, but basketball fans and junkies know how exciting this matchup could be. Two beasts that are able to take over the game whenever they want and carry the team on their backs.
The Bucks were the league’s best three-point shooting team this year. If they can hit the three consistently, it will force the Raptors to stay on their toes on defense. For Toronto, their strengths lie in Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi has reminded everyone who he is by taking over games throughout the playoffs. If Kawhi plays as great as he has and if Kyle Lowery can come out of his shell and flash some of what made him an All-Star, I think the Raptors can win the series. Malcolm Brogdon’s health and role coming off a month-long injury look to increase this series after having a limited role in the series against Boston. Brogdan is a key role player for Milwaukee as a knockdown shooter who can play off the ball and fit perfectly with how the Bucks decided to use Giannis this year as a point forward.
The series will essentially come down to depth, which team can limit the other team’s star players and which teams’ second or third options can step up and make plays. The Raptors should win the series in 6 and head to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The matchup in the West offers up many great storylines. Damien Lillard returning to his hometown of Oakland to play in his first ever WCF makes the mission to win that much sweeter for him and the Blazers. The Curry Brothers matchup is also a great story and will old Steph Curry reemerge with Durant ruled out until further notice.
I love the Blazers team. CJ McCollum and Damien Lillard are a problem for any team but I just don’t see them being able to compete. After the first game of the series ended in a 20 point trouncing of the Blazers at Oracle, the Blazers looked like the stage was too big for them and looked scared. The Warriors have been in this situation before and the stage is a familiar one, unlike the Trailblazers who are reaching the WCF for the first time since the lockout season of 1998-99. Both Klay and Curry and CJ and Dame are all going to get their buckets. If Klay can play tough D on CJ or even have him switch and guard Dame the Blazers don’t really have the supporting cast to help lead the way.
2019 NBA Finals Prediction
Pending the return of Kevin Durant, if the Warriors get him back at even 70% no team in the East matches up with the talent and depth of the Warriors. This has been a lock for most sports analysts since the beginning of the season. If the Warriors can get a great series from Andre Iguodala and play great defense on Kawhi, I don’t see any of the other players on the team stepping up.
Lowery has been a no show for most of the playoffs and Pascal Siakam was scared to shoot at times during the Philly series. Marc Gasol is the best option for the Raptors, barring on how well Kawhi is playing. He’s a veteran who has been in high-pressure situations and can slow down the game for him and bang down low. The Warriors’ glaring weakness is their presence inside. With Boogie Cousins out and an old Andrew Bogut, Gasol could be someone to keep an eye out for.
The Warriors should cap the season off by three-peating and then will finally be put in the discussion as one of the best teams (which they already should be) and compare them to other dynasties in the past.