After one of the most unusual first rounds, all eyes are set on the Conference Semi-Finals and whether or not we’ll see a new face at the top of each Conference. Faces like the young Philadelphia 76ers who have proven that the process is ready. Or how about the New Orleans Pelicans and the reemergence of Rajon Rondo. Maybe we’ll finally see Chris Paul make it to the Conference Finals for the first time in his career. Or the Utah Jazz and their rookie, Donovan Mitchell could run away with another upset win.
How about the Toronto Raptors? Will they finally get passed LeBron in the East? They would be the first team in nine seasons to eliminate a LeBron James led team from the playoffs this early.
Before we get to my predictions for the Conference Semi-Finals, let’s recap where I went wrong. To follow along you can read it here, NBA Playoff Predictions First Round.
The Eastern Conference was the hardest to predict because it’s either picking the young rising team or the experienced team.
Toronto and Washington are both experienced teams, but Washington is pretty much the same type of team they always have been, and if they were in the Western conference, they wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Toronto handled the Wizards in six games behind their guard play.
Philadelphia took care of the Heat and Dwayne Wade in five games despite all the pushing and shoving amongst the two teams.
That wasn’t all the excitement though, as the Boston Celtics met their match with the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Anteknpomo as the series was decided in game 7. Boston proved they’re ready for Philly without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward.
LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers were also proven to be in a battle tasted the first-round matchup with the Indiana Pacers and Victor Oladipo. Even in a game seven, LeBron sparked his team to victory over the Pacers.
For the Western Conference, I had three of the four teams right, and one of the number of games was right.
The one team I didn’t have was the Utah Jazz, who beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games after some terrible performances by Thunder’s Carmelo Anthony.
I picked Houston in Six, but Karl Anthony-Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves forgot how to play basketball against Houston’s MVP candidate, and the Rockets won in five.
Speaking of forgetting how to play, what happened to the Portland Trail Blazers. They seemingly had no answer for Anthony Davis who averaged 33.0 points for the Pelicans in a 4-0 series sweep against Portland.
The Spurs managed to avoid getting swept by the Warriors for the second consecutive year as they picked up one win in fives game without Kawhi Leonard or Coach Popovich. But still, the defending champions will be moving on.
Toronto finally won a game one in a first-round playoff series. And LeBron eventually lost game one of a first-round series. But that doesn’t mean anything now as LeBron, and the Cavaliers look to continue to fight for the land. The Raptors seem to finally get over the hump and make a run for the title, but along the way is the Cavaliers who have knocked them out in each of the last two seasons. This year will be no different. Especially with LeBron’s “it’s us against the world” mindset.
The Process is real! The 76ers are trying to join the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) and Villanova Wildcats (NCAA) as teams who won the title for their respective sports. That would make Philly the new city of Champs. In another fierce battle for Celtics, the 76ers find a way to beat Boston despite huge games by Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum as Philadelphia and Ben Simmons take the series in 6.
And for the Western Conference:
Houston Rockets vs. 5. Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell has shown all season long why he should be the Rookie of The Year. With the Jazz win over the Thunder, he has shown that he’s ready to take on all comers. But he is prepared for a seven-game series with the Rockets’ James Harden. We expect the Rockets to have more of a challenge with the Jazz that they did with the Wolves, but nothing can stop Harden ready right now. Don’t forget about Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela and all the bench players that played a huge role in this year’s Rockets team is the best in the league. Mitchell and Gobert will give it everything they have, but it won’t be enough.
The real question in this matchup is when Steph Curry will return? The Warriors are still a dominant team without Curry in the lineup, but the Pelicans have Anthony Davis, and it’ll be hard to shut him down without getting the rest of his team involved. Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo have shown that they are ready to take over games when Davis struggles, and it will be an excellent series to watch with or without Curry. But the Warriors will still seem to be too much for the Pelicans to handle.