2018-19 NBA Conference Finals
No. 1 Milwaukee vs. No. 2 Toronto
Greg’s Prediction: Bucks in 7
|Point Guard||E. Bledsoe 15.9 ppg||K. Lowry 14.2 ppg|
|Shooting Guard||M. Brogdon 15.6 ppg||D. Green 10.3 ppg|
|Small Forward||K. Middleton 18.3 ppg||K. Leonard 26.6 ppg|
|Power Forward||G. Antetokounmpo 27.7 ppg||P. Siakam 16.9 ppg|
|Center||B. Lopez 12.5 ppg||S. Ibaka 15.0 ppg|
In a playoffs themed with evenly-matched series, the Eastern Conference Finals should be no exception. Milwaukee will look to run and Toronto will look to control the half court. The Bucks shoot the lights out, ranking second in effective field goal percentage. Obviously, this is a more of a function of the shots Giannis takes rather than the actual shooting ability on the team, but you get the idea. It’s no secret that’s why Milwaukee is a top-three points per possession team. The Bucks meet a Toronto team that ranks in the top five in defensive efficiency per possession.
From a personal standpoint, it’s hard to say whether Leonard or Giannis has more help. While the Bucks do have five guys scoring in double-digits in the postseason, while the Raptors have only three, that is more a function of the quality of shots Giannis creates than the quality of the supporting cast. Leonard appears more driven than ever through these playoffs and is shooting better than 55 percent, all the more reason why this series will go down to the wire. I like Milwaukee simply because, star on star, I think Giannis is going to create more offense than Kawhi.
Adjusted +/- X Factors
Milwaukee: B. Lopez +8.73 points above average
Toronto: K. Lowry +7.37 points above average
Milwaukee: P. Gasol, D. Williams
Toronto: C. Boucher, O. Anunoby
- Non-Giannis Milwaukee Points: Toronto’s elite defense will be quick to send help to Giannis, which means others will have to step up.
- Kawhi Leonard Field Goal Percentage: Kawhi may have scored 40 points in Game 7 last round, but he took a lot of shots to get there. Let’s see if he can maintain his efficiency.
- Game 1 (@ MIL) – Wednesday, May 15, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
- Game 2 (@ MIL) – Friday, May 17, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
- Game 3 (@ TOR) – Sunday, May 19, 7 p.m. on TNT
- Game 4 (@ TOR) – Tuesday, May 21, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
- Game 5 (@ MIL) – Thursday, May 23, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
- Game 6 (@ TOR) – Saturday, May 25, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
- Game 7 (@ MIL) – Monday, May 27, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
No. 1 Golden State vs. No. 3 Portland
Greg’s Prediction: Warriors in 7
|Point Guard||S. Curry 27.3 ppg||D. Lillard 25.8 ppg|
|Shooting Guard||K. Thompson 21.5 ppg||C. McCollum 21.0 ppg|
|Small Forward||A. Iguodola 5.7 ppg||M. Harkless 7.7 ppg|
|Power Forward||D. Green 7.4 ppg||A. Aminu 9.4 ppg|
|Center||D. Cousins 16.3 ppg||E. Kanter 13.1 ppg|
With Kevin Durant sidelined at least to start and the Blazers clicking on all cylinders, this could be the series that breaks the Warriors. Cousins is scheduled to return, but Golden State definitely needs Stephen Curry on his best performance if it’s going to keep the dynasty alive. The Warriors have been in control, but they aren’t as invincible as they used to be. It’s hard to anticipate the amount of damage that losing Durant will have. He has scored nearly 35 per game this postseason, and the only other 20 points per game scorer this postseason is Curry (Thompson is averaging 18.2). So, it seems like his absence would have a big effect. That being said, the Warriors were by no means hindered by the loss of Durant in Game 6 against Houston, putting up 118 points and shooting better than 40 percent on threes.
The Warriors will face a Portland team that is playing the best it ever has. With Lillard averaging nearly 30 a game and shooting almost 40 percent from behind the arc, the Blazers offense has a catalyst arguably just as dangerous as Steph Curry. Steph and McCollum are taking a combined 17 threes per game and are winning from the outside with both of them shooting close to 40 percent. That backcourt has led an underrated offense ranking in the top five in points per possession. I think they have the backcourt to make the series competitive, but I don’t think they have the offense to win.
Adjusted +/- X Factors
Portland: Seth Curry +8.6 points above average
Golden State: A. Iguodola +3.46 points above average
Golden State: K. Durant, D. Cousins, D. Jones
Portland: R. Hood, J. Nurkic
- C. McCollum Points: It’s no secret that Lillard is going to need help if Portland wants to compete this series.
- Portland Thee-Point Percentage: Golden State is still a great shooting team without Durant. Portland will need to match that.
- K. Thompson Points: Without Durant, Curry will need more help than normal from Thompson.
- Game 1 (@ GSW) – Tuesday, May 14, 9 p.m. on ESPN
- Game 2 (@ GSW) – Thursday, May 16, 9 p.m. on ESPN
- Game 3 (@ POR) – Saturday, May 18, 9 p.m. on ESPN
- Game 4 (@ POR) – Monday, May 20, 9 p.m. on ESPN
- Game 5 (@ GSW) – Wednesday, May 22, 9 p.m. on ESPN
- Game 6 (@ POR) – Friday, May 24, 9 p.m. on ESPN
- Game 7 (@ GSW) – Sunday, May 26, 9 p.m. on ESPN