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Conference Semifinal Predictions

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After Sunday’s pair of Game 7’s in the Eastern Conference, 8 teams remain in pursuit of the elusive Larry O’Brien trophy. This leaves us with a pair of matchups in each conference, for teams to fight for their spots in the next round, the Conference Finals. Out West, the 1 seeded Golden State Warriors face off against the 5 seeded Portland Trailblazers, along with the 2 seeded San Antonio Spurs playing the 3 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Then in the East, the 1 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers are facing the 4 seeded Atlanta Hawks, and the 2 seeded Toronto Raptors are competing against the 3 seeded Miami Heat. Here is a break down of each of the 4 series, and which ones to keep your eye on that could go to 6 or 7 games.

Golden State vs Portland

This series kicked off Sunday in Golden State where the Warriors took care of business 118-106 in Game 1 in Oakland. In this game, the Warriors are still without star player Steph Curry, who is rumored to return by Game 3 in this series. That being said, it will become even more difficult for the Blazers to win a game when Steph comes back. Portland’s best chance to win a game would be games 2 or 3. In Game 2, they will have to prevent Klay Thompson from going off because he essentially killed Portland by dropping 37 points in Game 1. Then, by Game 3, they will be back in Portland and the Warriors will be adjusting to playing with Steph Curry, if he returns, and this could throw off the fluidity of their offense. Sadly for Portland, it just does not look like they have developed enough weapons to beat a power house team like the Warriors 4 times in 7 games.

Prediction: Warriors in 5

San Antonio vs Oklahoma City

The other Western Conference matchup, which started Saturday night in San Antonio, when the Spurs beat down on the Thunder, winning 124-92. This series was hyped up to be the most entertaining, due to the history of these teams meeting up in the playoffs so often and always competing in thrilling series. A lot has to change on the Thunder side for them to have a chance at getting a few games. In Game 1, the Thunder allowed the Spurs to get any shot they wanted, and the Spurs are no joke of a basketball team. San Antonio shot 60% from the field and 60% from 3 point range, led by Lamarcus Aldridge’s 38 points and Kawhi Leonard’s 25. In Game 2, which tips off Monday night, the Thunder need to come out strong and desperate. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have to take over the rest of the series. They have the potential to take down the Spurs, but ultimately it seems like the Spurs will prove to be the more dominate team.

Prediction: Spurs in 6

Cleveland vs Atlanta

Last year, these two teams met up in the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Cavaliers swept the 60-win Atlanta Hawks. Since then, the Hawks lost defensive specialist Demarre Carroll and declined to a 48-win season. The Cavaliers also now have a healthy Kevin Love, who was missing in last years series due to injury, and a team that is all on the same page. From the Cavaliers first playoff series, they showed they did not need to rely on LeBron as much as they did last year in the Finals, with players like Kyrie Irving averaging 28 points in the first round series. Atlanta, on the other hand, has shown that they can dominate games, for example blowing out the Boston Celtics in 3 of their 4 first round wins. Overall, if the Hawks could not win a game last year, and look to have gotten worse since then, against a team that has gotten better since last year, then the Hawks most likely will not win this series.

Prediction: Cleveland in 4

Toronto vs Miami

Both of these teams advanced to the second round by winning in 7 games, Miami dominated Charlotte in Game 7 106-73, and Toronto scraped by Indiana 89-84. This series is the toughest to predict, mainly because of the Toronto Raptors. There were two Toronto teams that showed up in the first round, a good one and a bad one. The good team showed dominance on the boards, and outstanding performances by Demar DeRozan, as well as the emergence of rookie Norman Powell. The bad team consisted of Demar throwing up too many shots, Jonas Valanciunas missing layups, and a stagnant offense that would not get shots up until the final seconds of the shot clock. Both teams, consisted of a bad Kyle Lowry, which needs to change for Toronto to win this series. Role players playing well is good enough to beat a 7 seeded Indiana Pacers, but not good enough to beat a 3 seeded Miami Heat led by veteran players such as Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng, along with young, talented players like Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow, and Josh Richardson. As good as Toronto was in the regular season, it has not seem to have translated to the postseason, and for this reason Miami will advance to the conference finals.

Prediction: Miami in 6

All stats via NBA.com

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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