One week to go in the first round, and it looks like the Conference Finals are shaping up to be some real doozies
Tampa Bay leads Boston, 7-1-1 The Celtics got a monster night Saturday to almost completely erase a 60+ rebound advantage, largely thanks to 30 rebounds from Enes Kanter. They'd also gotten big contributions in blocks to take an 8-block advantage. That lead lasted... less than 24 hours. The Bull Sharks came back last night to grab 56 boards, block 9 shots and score 129 points for good measure. Tampa Bay is once again in the driver's seat with decent leads in four categories and the other five categories still very much in play. They've done this despite having a marginal minutes advantage (1073 vs. 1026), which was not expected coming into this match-up. Tampa Bay has lost Jamal Murray and Jarrett Allen for the entire match-up to this point, which has only made things tougher with LeBron James already on the shelf (and expected to be out until our Finals at the earliest). While it's hard to project anything this season, Boston does have an opportunity to make this thing a game. Should they avoid any late scratches or injuries, they'll have six more games through Saturday, with the potential to have an even larger edge depending on what happens with Jarrett Allen. This one is not quite over, and we likely won't know until around Thursday. Tonight is a big night for the Celtics. At the very least, they'll need to play Tampa even to stay in this.
Chicago leads Miami, 6-3 Given their injuries and lack of depth following a deadline teardown, their appeared to be one path to victory for this Miami team: percentages, turnovers and defense. After one week, that path to victory is still in play. However, with the way Chicago has shot it from the free throw line, it appears to be a long shot for the Heat. In the offensive counting categories, the Bulls are dominating, though that was to be expected. Chicago has a minutes advantage of nearly FIVE HUNDRED (497 to be exact), and their big guns have come to play. Donovan Mitchell is averaging 31-5-4, Julius Randle is putting up 21-10-9 (of course, both are shooting miserably from the floor), and Vuc is only at 24-10-4. Oh and D'Angelo Russell finally returned and is picking up right where he left off (24-3-5). The key here for Chicago has been Pat Williams swiping 9 key steals. Everyone knows that defensive numbers have been their weakness, but they are holding their own in both categories (they're second among all playoff teams in steals, though last among all playoff teams in blocks). The Heat really have no shot to come back and win this one, unless Chicago has a monumental collapse from the free throw line. Given that they have no bad shooters, they should be ok. The Bulls look poised to make their first conference finals in team history.
Houston leads Portland, 6-3 Things looked shaky for the #1 seed at the start of the playoffs. Zion, Steph, Jaylen and Draymond were dealing with nagging injuries. Clarkson sprained his ankle, Lowry was out and Blake Griffin was hit or miss. Meanwhile, the Blazers were getting KD back and exploded in the first few days of the match-up. Slowly but surely, as the nagging injuries disappeared and guys came back, the superior depth of the Rockets started to kick in. Suddenly, Portland was the team dealing with injuries, semi-unexpected maintenance days and exiles from the rotation. The Rockets now find themselves with the the lead heading into the back stretch. Yes, it's still anyone's ballgame, but it would be a real surprise, at this point, for Portland to come back and win. Paul George has been great, and KD has been very good in limited minutes, but it's just not enough. Not when Zion is averaging 31 ppg on 59% shooting, or when Steph is putting up 37 ppg on 56% shooting. Threes are close enough that Portland can feel like they've got a shot there... but they also watched as a 20-three advantage was wiped out in three days. There are just so many shooters on this Rockets team, that it's hard to keep them down for long. That leaves steals and blocks, which are both in play, sure, but Portland is dealing with an injury to Maxi Kleber as well as the ghosting of both DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol. There go blocks. I don't know when we'll be able to pencil in the Rockets to the conference finals, but it'll probably be sooner rather than later.
Seattle leads Kansas City, 6-3 The injury to Harden has kind of exposed a weakness of this Sonics team: they have trouble scoring. OK, so that might be attributing too much to Harden. They've also missed Lonzo Ball and Bradley Beal this week. Those are probably the three most prolific three-point shooters, and it shows right now. They've got a nearly 200 minutes played advantage, but they're struggling to put away a Kings team that just can't keep guys on the floor. Nerlens Noel is almost single-handedly carrying the blocks category, while Dorian Finney-Smith has hit a hot streak behind the arc (10 threes). Without Harden and Beal, the Sonics aren't getting to the line either, and it has kept that category in play. There is a path to victory for KC, and it's not outlandish if Beal and Harden stay banged up... flip FT % and points. Ironically, even with a poor effort thus far, the Sonics would be beating the Rockets... by decent margins too. If the Sonics and Rockets hold onto their respective leads, it will make the conference finals a fascinating match-up of contrasting styles. While Houston is prolific and efficient scoring the ball, the Sonics, when healthy and clicking, just kind of do everything else better. The ceiling is higher defensively, and they've got guys up and down the roster that can board and dish. Assuming Harden is back for the conference finals, we could be in for a real heavyweight battle. That's getting ahead of ourselves though, because KC is still very much in this. How, you might ask? Well, for starters, Bobby Portis (former NBA champion) is averaging 15-12.5. Caris LeVert is also coming up clutch with 21 ppg on 53% shooting. The Kings are going to be at a disadvantage because they simply aren't as talented. But maybe, just maybe, they can pull this thing off.
Last Edit: Apr 12, 2021 11:34:10 GMT -5 by Miege22
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Chicago Bulls: Toppin, Patrick Williams doing goood job on their 1st game in preseason.
Dec 11, 2020 23:33:55 GMT -5
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Mar 28, 2021 6:56:59 GMT -5