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The Cavalier

The NBA Playoffs Are in Full Swing

Brenden Marrero, Editor

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The NBA Playoffs are in full swing and the matchups for each conference semifinals are set. In the east, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers look to extend their historic run to four straight NBA Finals appearances against the Toronto Raptors in a rematch of last year’s first round matchup which the Cavs dominated; the Boston Celtics look to book back to back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals against a young and exciting Philadelphia Seventy Sixers team looking to make the franchises first conference finals in 17 years.

In the west, the Utah Jazz, fresh off a commanding upset win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, face off against the red hot Houston Rockets who have proven themselves to be one of, if not the most dominant team in the NBA this season. In the other conference semifinal is an almost laughable matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans going against the seemingly unbeatable Golden State Warriors. Rivaled only by Lebron James himself, the Warriors have been the most dominant force in Basketball over the last four seasons and despite not having one of their biggest superstars on the court, they are still heavy favorites to make it back to the finals.

The favorites to win this year’s NBA Finals and take home the championship are the Warriors, Rockets and despite lacking in many key areas, the Cavaliers. Although the Finals matchup is expected to remain coherent with the trend of the last three seasons, (Cavs vs. Warriors) there are a couple teams who could get in the way. In the West the Rockets are poised to pull off a huge upset against the Warriors, which is the most likely conference finals matchup. Although they do not have as much depth as the Warriors, the Rockets have all the tools they need in James Harden, who is having an MVP caliber season, Chris Paul, a dual threat point guard who has established himself as one of the best scorers and facilitating guards in the game, a promising young big in Clint Capela and the reigning sixth man of the year Eric Gordon.

In the East the one seeded Raptors, Celtics and 76’ers pose a huge threat to Lebron’s finals streak and have all proven they are capable of knocking off the Cavs. The Cavaliers are severely lacking in many key areas, other than Lebron James, they have no consistent high volume scorers, they have a below average defensive rating and they have had trouble holding leads in the first round. The only thing keeping this team afloat is Lebron James and Lebron James alone. The Cavs are in grave danger as the young talent on both the 76’ers and Celtics have proven themselves time and time again throughout the playoffs. The Sixers possess a lethal combination in Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid with huge contributions from veteran scorer J.J. Reddick, Dario Saric and Robert Covington. The Celtics also possess two young, potent scorers in Jalen Brown and Jayson Tatum along with a surprising performance thus far from Terry Rozier who has stepped up in a huge spot following the absence of Kyrie Irving. The Celtics also have key tools in Al Horford, an explosive veteran who has come up big for Boston this season, Marcus Smart, an impeccable scorer and solid defender and Marcus Morris who has also been a key piece for this roster.

These two teams play with a chemistry so strong, it’s like artwork and may prove to be their biggest asset. Chemistry is something the Cavaliers have been lacking in all season and could prove to be their downfall. All this being said, these teams are still very young and there is a learning curve I don’t believe either team has completed which will be shown when one goes up against possibly the most dominant athlete this game has ever seen. Lebron James in his 15th NBA season is still the most dominant force in basketball right now and has carried the Cavs on his back for the entire season. He is playing with a ferocity and determination we have never seen before and nothing will stand in his way on his road back to the finals, certainly not a handful of rookies, many of whom making their first playoff appearances.

 

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The NBA Playoffs Are in Full Swing