Kevin Durant put his fifth straight 30-point game on Sunday to start the series out against Houston and bring his team to a 104-100 win. This may seem like a dominant performance indicating the Warriors are going to cruise into another West Final, but after Round 1 of the playoffs, there is nothing certain. The Warriors went six games with the Clippers, the Spurs took Nuggets to seven before losing, the Trail Blazers out worked the Thunder in five, The Rockets beat Jazz easily in five, and that is just the West.
Now in the Western Conference Semifinals, it’s unclear as to who will make it to the final round. When it comes to the NBA it is pretty well-known the Warriors are heavy favorites in every season. The first round of the playoffs was very revealing though and showed the Warriors aren’t even guaranteed to get out of the West and into the NBA Championship. Houston versus Golden State has been a classic rival in the West over the past few years, and this series will most likely be similar to the others and come down to sixth or seventh game. The Warriors are definitely my pick to win the series, but if James Harden decides to play defense then there’s an actual chance Houston could steal the win.
In the other West Semifinal, it’s difficult to pick between the struggling but well-rounded Nuggets and Trailblazers who are coming off of a big win over the Thunder. Damian Lillard’s greatness has been underappreciated over the years, and this is his chance to prove he is a force to be reckoned with. The Trailblazers are definitely my pick to win this series. If it is a West Final of Blazers and Warriors it would be a good back-and-forth that could end up with Portland going to the NBA Finals.
On the East side, it has been less eventful and is a little more obvious who will make it out of the semifinals. The Milwaukee Bucks are an obvious choice to be the team to represent the East in the NBA Championship. Giannis
Antetokounmpo is the clear MVP in the league and will most likely carry his team to a series win over the Boston Celtics. This series will be interesting, but if the Bucks continue to dominate and Boston keeps struggling, this will be a five or six game series, even though Boston won the first game on Sunday.
The other Eastern Conference Semifinal is a little trickier to predict because the 76ers and the Raptors have depth on the bench and the ability to last seven games with any team in the NBA. The only problem is the Raptors have the better star. However, the 76ers have more depth, which is why Philly will win this series in seven despite losing the first game of the series. If the East Final was Milwaukee and Philly, then I would take the Bucks to win this series and go on to the finals against the Blazers.
Conference Semifinals will continue through May 14 and certainly keep basketball fans nationwide on their feet until the NBA finals begin on May 30.