(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (2) San Antonio Spurs: Warriors in 4
The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA and it’s not even close. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Warriors lose a game in this series, I wouldn’t bet on it. They have been dominant all season, and seem even more locked in during these playoffs. The Warriors came up short in last year’s NBA Finals, and seem to have redemption on their minds. They dominated the Trail Blazers and Jazz in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and now have an opportunity to defeat coach Popovich’s Spurs. Gregg Popovich might be the best coach in NBA history, but his team isn’t talented enough to beat the Warriors. I think he’ll make adjustments every game, but he doesn’t have enough defenders to slow down the Warriors’ death lineup. Kawhi Leonard is the best defender in the NBA, but he can only lockdown one player. The Warriors seem to be on a mission to complete the greatest postseason in NBA history. They already own the greatest regular season in NBA history, but they left that season without the championship. They are way more talented than last year’s record-breaking team. There might be a few competitive games in this series, but I expect the Warriors to complete their third straight series sweep.
(1) Boston Celtics vs. (2) Cleveland Cavaliers: Cavaliers in 5
This series gives the Celtics a chance to show that they aren’t the worst number one seed in NBA history. That narrative has been communicated by the media, which has understandably upset the Celtics. Although I don’t think they’re the worst number one seed ever, I do think they aren’t the best team in the Eastern Conference. I would pick both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors to defeat the Celtics in a seven game playoff series. The Celtics have a lot of nice role players around Isaiah Thomas, but they don’t have a superstar to get them over the hump. Isaiah Thomas is a star, but he’s a better fit to be a number two option on a championship contending team. The Celtics have a trio of wing defenders in Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart that can give the Cavaliers issues, but they don’t have enough to slow down the big three entirely. If the Celtics are able to win the series, they would prove that the Cavaliers made a mistake to rest their starters and concede the number one seed. I didn’t like the decision to rest their starters, but I don’t think it will cost them a chance of returning to the NBA Finals. The Celtics will be a challenge for the Cavaliers for years to come (especially if they get the number one pick), but they don’t have enough firepower to beat them this season. If LeBron James continues to dominate like he has in the first two rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cavaliers sweep the Celtics. I’ll give the Celtics the benefit of the doubt in either game three or four at home, but I don’t expect them to win more than one game in this series.