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NBA Playoffs: Who will advance to Eastern, Western conference championships?

Justin Jalomo, Sports Reporter

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For the past month the NBA playoffs have been underway with 16 teams (eight teams from the Eastern and Western conferences) hoping to bring home an NBA championship. These teams play each other in best-of-seven series to determine which two teams will ultimately advance to the NBA Finals. Currently, playoffs are in the second round, with eight teams (four teams from the Eastern and Western conferences) trying to advance to the NBA Finals. Since playoffs are in the second round, below are the current matchups and the series record for each:

 

Eastern Conference

#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs #4 Boston Celtics: 3-1 Milwaukee

#2 Toronto Raptors vs #3 Philadelphia 76ers: 3-2 Toronto

 

Western Conference

#1 Golden State Warriors vs #4 Houston Rockets: 2-2 Tied

#2 Denver Nuggets vs #3 Portland Trail Blazers: 3-2 Denver

 

With the second round of the playoffs ending either at the end of this week or sometime next week, I’m going to predict how the second round playoff matchups will finish.

Below are my predictions along with an analysis:

 

Eastern Conference

#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs #4 Boston Celtics: 4-1 Milwaukee

Analysis: This series is going the way it is because of the Celtics not playing to the best of their ability. The Celtics were leading the start of the series but started losing by not finishing the game offensively when leading the majority of the time or by not playing good defense. Of course, there is the Buck’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other side who is very hard to guard but offensively, the Celtics should be doing well. They have one of the best point guards in the league who happens to be a great finisher, has great ball handling and can make clutch shots when the Celtics need it most. But once Kyrie doesn’t play well, the rest of the team doesn’t play well and they allow the opposing team (Milwaukee Bucks in this case) to take advantage of their mistakes. Also, Game 5 is in Milwaukee so the Bucks will have home court advantage this game and if they use it to their advantage, which I think they will, and they play well offensively and defensively, the game will be theirs and will advance to the Eastern Conference championship.  

 

#2 Toronto Raptors vs #3 Philadelphia 76ers: 4-3 Raptors

Analysis: This series is really good and I like how both teams are playing offensively and defensively. Kawhi Leonard continues to be a force to be reckoned with for the Raptors offensively and defensively while the 76ers show they can still hang on with the Raptors with their young core, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, leading the way. Both teams haven’t played many games with the entire starting lineup so this could possibly be another factor as to why the series is tight. I predict this series will go all the way to seven games just because each team is pulling out the stops in every game to make sure their respective team wins. I believe Philadelphia will win Game 6 since they will be at home and their young core along with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will step it up. However, in the end, Kawhi Leonard, with the Raptors back home for Game 7 and being dominant as he always is, will come up clutch for Toronto and will lead the team to victory, sending the Raptors to the Eastern conference championship.  

 

Western Conference

#1 Golden State Warriors vs #4 Houston Rockets: 4-2 Rockets

Analysis: Last year, the Rockets had the opportunity to defeat the Warriors to go into the NBA Finals but it backfired when Chris Paul went down with an injury. This year, the Rockets aren’t as strong since Trevor Ariza, one of their best defenders, is gone, however, aren’t showing any signs that they’re a worse team since James Harden is playing like an MVP. With the series tied up going into Game 5 and if the Rockets play like how they did in Game 4, then they should come out victorious and will feel confident in closing out the series in Game 6 when they return to Houston. The Rockets had the chance to win Game 2 but couldn’t due to not finishing shots and playing poor defense. I believe the Rockets will continue to play strong and hard like they did in Game 4 and will feel confident going into Game 6 when they return to Houston. They will have to stop Kevin Durant from having a good third quarter and will have to stop the rest of the team from scoring and the Rockets will have to score and play strong defense in order to build their momentum.

 

#2 Denver Nuggets vs #3 Portland Trail Blazers: 4-3 Nuggets

Analysis: This series is similar to the Raptors and 76ers series: tight. Each team steps up their game each time they play and their star players continue playing well to help lead their respective teams to victories. The Nuggets used home court advantage to win Game 1 and then the Trail Blazers stepped it up to win Game 2 in Denver and Game 3 since they went home and the Nuggets stepped up their game to win Game 4 in Portland and Game 5 back in their own home. I believe this trend will continue as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will step up their game to win Game 6 at home, however, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets will step up their game to win Game 7 and send the Nuggets to the Western conference championship.

 

With that being said, here is a look at my Eastern and Western Conference Championship series matchups:

 

Eastern Conference

#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs #2 Toronto Raptors

 

Western Conference

#4 Houston Rockets vs #2 Denver Nuggets

 

The second round of the playoffs is shaping up to have some good series’ and it should be a tight finish to the end. All eight teams will continue to step up their game to make sure their respective team advances to the conference championships. We’ll see how each series plays out as it’ll be a tight race to the finish.

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About the Writer
Justin Jalomo, Sports Reporter
Justin Jalomo is a senior and this is his third year on the newspaper staff. He is involved in band and the A/V department at Vandegrift. During his free time he likes to watch TV, play video games and play sports.
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NBA Playoffs: Who will advance to Eastern, Western conference championships?