And then there were four. As the NBA moves towards a resolution of who will win the NBA championship, the field of 30 teams has been whittled down to four teams remaining in the hunt. In what has already been a record-setting season, fans can expect fireworks as the two best teams from the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference face-off to see who will meet in the NBA Championships.
There were no surprises in the Eastern Conference where the #1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers will play the #2 seed Toronto Raptors. In the Western Conference, the #1 seed Golden State Warriors will meet up against the surprising #3 seed Oklahoma Thunder.
Here’s the current NBA championship odds going into the conference finals:
Golden State Warriors – +100
Cleveland Cavaliers – +110
Oklahoma Thunder – +320
Toronto Raptors +7000
Note: These NBA championship odds were provided by Free Bets Australia. NBA championship odds may vary from one site to the next.
Eastern Conference Championships
In the conference semis, the Cleveland Cavaliers erased any doubt about them being the class of the conference. It was an absolute thing of beauty to watch the Cavaliers absolutely dismantle the #4 Atlanta Hawks without even breaking a sweat. In the process, they unveiled uncanny three-point shooting as a new weapon that rendered the Hawks helpless. It was in game 2 that the Cavs broke out the big guns on the way to a record-setting performance. For the game, they hit 25 threes on 25-45 shooting from behind the arc. That’s 75 points, which represents approximately 60% of the total 123 points the Cavs scored for the game. After adding 21 threes in game 3 and another 16 in game 4, the sweep was complete.
After losing its first game at home against the Miami Heat, the Raptors looked like they were going to once again flounder in the playoffs. After squeaking out a narrow game 2 win at home, they immediately reclaimed home-court advantage by winning game 3 in Miami with a score of 95-91. From that point on, the home team was able to defend its domain, resulting in the Raptors walking away with a hard-fought 7-game series victory.
Analysis: During the regular season, the Raptors held an advantage over the Cavs. However, that was long before Lebron and company put it into high gear. If the three-point shooting barrage continues, the Raptors will be going home knowing they made great strides this year and have much to look forward to next year.
Western Conference Championships
Until Stephen Curry was sent to the sidelines with a knee injury in the series against the Houston Rockets, the Warriors were the only reasonable answer to the question “who will win the NBA championship?” After the Warriors lost game 3 to the Rockets, doubts emerged about the Warriors’ prospects of getting through the playoff without Curry. However, the Warriors promptly disposed of the Rockets and survived the next series against the Portland Trailblazers as Curry returned in game 4 and made an immediate impact.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Thunder turned into an entirely different team following an embarrassing 32-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs in game 1 of the conference semis. They came right back in game 2 and hung a 1-point loss on the Spurs in San Antonio where the Spurs had been virtually unbeatable for almost two full seasons. After losing its first home game two nights later, the Thunder took everything to a new level and pounded the Spurs into submission with three straight wins to take the series 4-2.
Analysis: It would be easy to default to the World Champion Warriors in this series. However, the manner in which the Thunder handled the Spurs was a clear indication something was different about this team. With Curry healthy, the Warriors deserve to be favored. However, one gets the feeling this series might go down to the last 2-minutes of the seventh game before a winner is identified.
(Images sourced from Wikipdeia)