The Final Stretch of the 2016 NBA Postseason – Eastern and Western Conference Finals
The Final Stretch of the 2016 NBA Postseason – Eastern and Western Conference Finals:
So far, the 2016 NBA postseason has been extremely entertaining. After a slow first round, and one of the most exciting second round’s of recent years, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals are set. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the reigning championship-winning Golden State Warriors take on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder out west. In the Eastern Conference, a red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers team who are a perfect 8-0 in the 2016 playoffs take on the Toronto Raptors, a team that squeaked it’s way through the first two rounds. While most think the eastern series with be nothing but a blowout, the spotlight is on the matchup in the west… two almost evenly matched clubs with great players ready to battle for the NBA Finals.
The Unbeaten Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James is finally playing like LeBron James again. The four-time MVP has been putting up beastly numbers in the postseason along with strong support from his two sidekicks, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. After three-point shooting, record-setting performances by Cleveland in the second round, Toronto needs to lookout for the barrage of bullets from long range. Their marksman? J.R. Smith. Cleveland took out the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks with ease in the first two series. Toronto must show up in the Eastern Conference Finals to at least put up a fight against the raging Cavaliers. The Toronto Raptors have suffered a huge shooting slump all postseason, and continued to have trouble closing out games. They had many chances to close out games against Miami, but let it go to seven games. Luckily, they took home the series victory.
The Underrated Oklahoma City Thunder
When the San Antonio Spurs swept the injury-riddled Memphis Grizzlies with ease in the first round, few souls actually believed Kevin Durant and his crew would survive the Western Conference Semi-Finals… San Antonio looked that good. But, now that the smoke has cleared and one team moved on in the Spurs versus Thunder matchup, it’s Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and their teammates that are “gone fishin.” The reason for Oklahoma City’s success has two names to it: Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Both stars finished top five in MVP voting, and played extremely well in the first two rounds of the postseason. Back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year winner, Kawhi Leonard guarded Durant all series long, and it was extremely exciting, to say the least. In Game 4, Durant exploded. He dropped 41 points and led OKC to victory. The Western Conference Finals is nothing new for the Oklahoma City Thunder; they’ve made it four out of their last six seasons. But, they’ve moved on just once. The end result? Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s team falling to Miami, 4-1 in the 2012 NBA Finals. They’ll now face the difficult task of getting past the reigning championship-winning Golden Warriors before reaching the 2016 NBA Finals. Don’t sleep on them, though; they took out a team many felt could defeat the Warriors.
Brick Squad… The Inconsistencies of the Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors’ trip to the Eastern Conference Finals is quite historic; it’s the first time in franchise history in which they made it this far. Supposed to be their most successful team of all-time, the Toronto Raptors are lucky to make it this far due to their terribly inconsistent play all postseason. Both round one and round two took seven games each to defeat their respective opponent, as they relied on bench production the whole way because of spotty play from their All-Stars, DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. The duo shot under 40% in the first two rounds, and didn’t look like the players they were in the regular season. But, the two bounced back, combining for 63 points in Game 7 against the Miami Heat, taking home the must-win victory to move on. If they keep this up, they might have a chance to win a game or two against the Cavaliers. If they play how they did the first two rounds, they’re better off dead.
The Golden Boy and his Golden Champions
Almost every NBA fan felt a different way as Stephen Curry fell to the ground due to a knee injury in Game 4 of the first round against the Houston Rockets. Some were disgustingly filled with joy that their biggest rival wouldn’t show up, others were freaking out because the Golden State Warriors may be eliminated without their MVP guard. But, three weeks later, the back-to-back MVP was back on track. In Game 4 of the second round against the Portland Trail Blazers, Curry was back to his old self. He dropped 40 points, including 17 in the overtime period alone—an NBA record. The main reason Golden State didn’t suffer too much when Curry was injured was because of their overwhelming depth and team unity. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green—two All-Stars—played lights out, picking up the load left behind by Stephen Curry. Thompson averaged 27.2 points per game, along with a very Magic Johnson-like 17.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game from Draymond Green in the series against Portland. Other players stepped up, including Shaun Livingston taking over as the starting point guard and producing valuable numbers. Even though the Golden State Warriors are projected to win the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they must be very careful underestimating them. Look what happened to San Antonio…
Get your popcorn and soda ready folks, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals will be two series to remember. You won’t want to miss em’.