Notes from the NBA Conference Finals
Western Conference Finals: Golden State Warriors vs Dallas Mavericks
GSW lead the series 3-0
Dallas’ Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber (starting center and backup forward) have been unable to stop GSW from attacking the basket. The Warriors are shooting 72.6% on layups and dunks in this series, on pace to be the second-highest in a single series by any team.
Reggie Bullock and Kleber were a combined 0-for-15 from the floor in Game 3. On Sunday GSW held Doncic’s teammates to 36% shooting from the field and 25% from 3.
When Doncic is involved as a screen defender in a pick-and-roll, he has been shredded by the Warriors superior shooting and drives to the basket. The Jazz weren’t able to take advantage due to a lack of quality, the Suns began to do it against Luka. The Warriors however are attacking Luka’s weakness and wearing him down as much as possible. He’s still managing to average 32 PPG but the Mavs can’t fight the Warriors, shooting-for-shooting alone.
The Warriors have proven how deep they are and are staying healthy for the most part. With Steph, Klay and Draymond as your core, Wiggins and Poole as the infusion of youth. Center Kevon Looney has also stepped up big in this series.
Luka Doncic has proven he is a superstar, the Mavericks need to surround him with more talent going forward.
This GSW team is incredibly hard to guard, their ball movement keeps the opposition on their toes, switching and moving. The Warriors against the defensive chops of Boston or Mami will be fascinating to watch.
Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics
Heat and Celtics are tied 2-2
A competitive series that is being decided by health. Two strong defensive teams that are beating each other up. Miami stole Game 3 in Boston by being tough, PJ Tucker ground the Celtics down.
Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro have all missed time for the Heat. PJ Tucker has been fighting through some left knee irritation. Robert Williams and Marcus Smart have both missed time for the Celtics. Tatum rolled his ankle in Game 3 but has been fighting through it. Who will be available for the last three (if needed) games of the series will determine the direction of the Eastern conference finals.
Boston’s defense in Game 4 held the ailing Heat starters for a combined 18 points in Game 4, the fewest in a playoff game since 1976. Boston tallied 11 blocked shots in Game 4. Tatum came out and fired 24 points in the first half which demoralized the Heat early. How well the Celtics come out in Game 5 in Miami early, will set the tempo for a critical game with the series 2-2.
Victor Oladipo continues to be the surprise package for the Heat during this series, offensively and defensively. If Herro is out of Game 5 look to him to pick up the slack if Miami are going to hold home court advantage.
The injuries limiting Herro and Butler is killing Miami’s offense. Boston’s defense is tough too. Miami will need Boston to perform as they did in Game 3 with a load of turnovers that fueled offensive chances for the Heat, culminating in 33 points! If Boston’s offense is on point, it could spell trouble for the banged-up Heat.
NBA Finals matchup
How much will the bruising Heat-Celtics series impact the NBA finals? A lot will depend on how much time the key players miss and how much these injuries will linger. The Warriors - especially if they advance with a sweep over the Mavs - will have time to rest their aging veterans who have, so far, remain unscathed during the conference finals.
The East has looked like the stronger conference this year; the Celtics who are still favored in the East would have had to overcome three pretty strong teams in the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. The Heat perhaps less so, should they advance, but they can say they overcame the top defensive team in the NBA in the Boston Celtics.
The Warriors may have had an easier ride, with the inexperienced Grizzlies and Mavs and banged-up Nuggets, but they do boast a plethora of big game experience and championship quality. Crucially, they’re healthy and an early close-out will afford them rest. Will it prepare them for the bruising battle to come whoever they face?
Should the Celtics get healthy and advance, I still like them over the Golden State Warriors. Should the Heat advance, I like the Warriors firepower and shooting to overwhelm Miami’s hustle.
The Warriors are currently -150 for the NBA Championship
The Celtics are currently +230 for the NBA Championship