With a number of big name signings and smart moves being made, this NBA season is shaping up to be extremely interesting. But who will make the East and West Conference Finals?
Eastern Conference Final: Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers
With the Cavaliers falling behind to potentially not even clinch a top 8 sport after the loss of Lebron James, the stage is set for Philly to make an appearance in the conference final. With two young-guns in Joel Embiid and our very own Ben Simmons, and the potential return of a Markelle Fultz (who is able to shoot), the 76ers look to be a huge contender in the finals race. I predict them to have a fairly tough road to the conference finals series, likely taking on a strong Toronto, whom are hopeful their new recruit Kawhi Leonard can return to form, or Milwaukee, with the Greek Freak Giannis at some point in the finals series. The 76ers will prevail though, and give the conference final a good shake.
To see Ben Simmons best play in each game of last season click below:
The Celtics roster is incredible, with young-guns such as Jayson Tatum and the return of Kyrie Irving (did you know he was born in Melbourne?) and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are the pick of the bunch to enter the finals in top spot. Their road to the finals will be much easier, likely taking on the Washington Wizards or the Pistons in the first round, which they should make light work of. The only teams which may trouble the Celtics along the way are the Raptors and the Bucks, and if all goes to plan, they should keep their spot in the conference finals from last year.
Western Conference Final: Golden State Warriors vs Utah Jazz
In recent years the NBA finals series has become a question of, who can beat the Warriors? With an all-star lineup of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. As well as the incoming DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors look like shoe-ins to be in the conference finals once again. Rumours circulated about the Warriors being a ‘soft’ team, and with the acquisition of a renowned ‘hard’ man being Cousins, that problem seems to be resolved. But, could more problems arise from having a polarising figure like DeMarcus Cousins in the Warriors change room? Cousins has fallen out numerous times at his past clubs and could potentially again, as the Warriors already established stars attempt to maintain their ‘alpha’ status. All of this speculation aside, the Warriors should breeze into the conference finals.
This was a very hard pick to make, with the everstrong Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers in the picture, this second finals spot is very much up for grabs. With the Lakers acquiring the best player in the league, Lebron James (queue Durant fanboys being triggered), they become incredibly big candidates for contesting that spot. Lebron went one step further last season with an aggressively average supporting cast at Cleveland, and with the solid roster that Lakers have he could potentially take them to the conference finals. His issue will be taming the young egos around him (not pointing any fingers, Lonzo) to play some quality basketball. The Rockets made the conference finals last year and would be the obvious pick for the second finals spot and with the rumoured acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, would only be stronger. But the Utah Jazz, (with the golden combination of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year) can possibly steal the spot from these two teams. Mitchell was incredible last year, just missing out on the Rookie of the Year award to Ben Simmons, and with the return of Dante Exum, the Jazz could potentially find themselves in the number two spot in the West. Finishing last season with an incredible 29-6 closing of the season, with some inspired defensive showings, the Jazz will look to continue that form and cement themselves as serious contenders in the west.
Check out a video detailing Utah’s roster below: