NBA Finals Preview
by: Caleb Posner
Cavs vs. Warriors round 5? Nope, but this NBA finals does feel familiar. It is again the Warriors vs. whoever can manage to make it out of the East. Very unsurprisingly, the Warriors mowed down opponents in the Western conference to reach the finals. The East was more competitive, with three teams that seemed to really have a shot. Ultimately, the Kawhi Leonard lead Raptors punched their ticket and will play the two time defending champs.
The road for the Warriors seemed easier than ever. After signing all-star center Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins in the offseason to a one-year cheap contract, the Warriors, who were already favorites to three peat, looked unstoppable on paper. The regular season proved that they weren’t invincible, but they were still one of the best teams in the NBA. Fans held on to hope that they could be defeated based on a 2nd place in the West finish, but this hope quickly faded. The Clippers but up a fight, but the Warriors were easily the better team, and moved past them in 6 games. Harden vs. Curry proved to be a great series, but once again, the Warriors bested a Rockets team that again proved they can never make it over the hump. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum lead the Portland Trail Blazers to face the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. It looked as if an exciting, tight, and competitive series was on the horizon, but the Warriors showed their true colors. Even without Kevin Durant, they dominated the series and swept the Blazers to represent the West for their 5th straight year.
The Raptors had a very interesting offseason. After an early playoff exit, they made a surprising move and fired coach of the year Dwane Casey. They named nick Nurse as his replacement. This was followed by an even bigger move. The Raptors made a huge splash and swapped DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a top-20 protected 2019 first-round pick for superstar Kawhi Leonard and sharpshooting Danny Green. This instantly jolted an already good Raptors team to one of the biggest threats in the East. The Raptors had a fantastic season, finishing second in the East to Giannis’ Bucks. In the playoffs, they handled the Magic in 5 games in the first round. Then they ran into the 76ers in the second round. This series lived up in the hype. It was a seven game battle that Leonard ended with a Game 7 fade away buzzer beater. The Raptors carried that momentum into the Eastern Conference finals where they faced the first place Bucks. Giannis and his squad were no match for the Raptors, and after 6 games, Kawhi earned his new team a place in their first ever NBA Finals.
So the stage is set. Two teams that are both at the top of their conference, lead by superstars, and loaded with talent. The Warriors are the favorites again, but the Raptors could prove to be a challenge. They have a chip on their shoulders and they are hungry. Kawhi has been unstoppable this playoffs, and if he can take that play into the finals, the Raptors could give the Warriors a run for their money. In the end, I think the Warriors win the series in 6 games, but for the first time in four years, the East will throw out a different David to try and defeat the NBA’s Goliath.