NBA Conference Finals Preview and Predictions – Will the Spurs Meet the Heat?
Well, that was odd. After 2 rounds that were so unpredictable, so underdog heavy, so intriguing, we got exactly what was supposed to happen in the end. The NBA conference finals in the East and West will feature the top 2 seeds going head-to-head for a right to face the best from the counter conference. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers will duel it out for the East crown while the Spurs and Thunder settle it out West. Here’s the preview to both of the series along with predictions and matchups to watch.
Western Conference Finals: 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s been 4 consecutive years either the Spurs or Thunder are in the conference finals and for good reason. The Spurs, after somehow almost blowing their entire postseason to an inferior Dallas team in the first round (4-3 series win), reminded us again why they’re the best team in the conference by absolutely running over a nifty Portland team in the semi’s (4-1 with the average victory margin of 19 points). They will be battling an OKC team that looked poised to knock them off (after knocking off the Grizzlies and Clippers) and was starting to round into true championship form. Then word came out that PF Serge Ibaka would be out the rest of the post season and so then went the Thunder’s chances. Although the Thunder swept the Spurs in the season series this year and beat a similar Spurs team just 2 years ago in the Conference Finals, Ibaka played to vital a role in each to simply be ignored. Ibaka often gave the unique combination of guarding star Tim Duncan while also protecting the point from slashers such as Kawhi Leonard and team captain Tony Parker. Still, having the MVP in Kevin Durant should get them 2 or 3 wins but with home court and the health advantage on their side, the experienced and seasoned Spurs look poised for yet another run to the finals.
Prediction: San Antonio Wins 4-3
Matchup to Watch: Tony Parker (SAS) vs Russell Westbrook (OKC)
Eastern Conference Finals: 1 Indiana Pacers vs. 2 Miami Heat
This series is truly captivating in that in features two teams headed in different directions. The Heat have won 8 of 9 to start off the first 2 rounds while the Pacers have needed a combined 13 games to knock off the inferior Hawks and Wizards, respectively. Although the Pacers ended the Washington series looking far more respectable, it doesn’t seem as if they good put together a 7 game stretch at this time in which they can beat the world champion Heat in 4. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade should be rested and ready for the round. The one factor that can tilt the series Indiana’s way could be home court, with the Pacers only losing 6 games the entire season in Indianapolis. Also, the deadly 3 point shooting of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, and Paul George could also spell trouble for the Heat (who are notoriously bad 3 point defenders) if all 3 were to get hot at the right time. Nonetheless, Miami still has the best player on the planet in LeBron and I expect them to split the first two in Indy, and then use the home court advantage tilt to win 2 of the next 4 and take care of the Pacers in a tough, but convincing 6 game victory.
Prediction: Miami Wins 4-2
Matchup to watch: Dwyane Wade (MIA) vs. Lance Stephenson (IND)