Steve Believes: 2019 NBA Conference Finals

                                                                                       The NBA Conference Semifinals concluded on Mother Day’s 2019, as both the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors each prevailed in their respective Game 7s, with the former defeating the Denver Nuggets and the latter defeating the Philadelphia Sixers. And as for the other two Semifinal winners, the league’s best team (Milwaukee Bucks) this season completed a gentleman’s sweep (five games) of the Boston Celtics, and was followed up two days later with the Golden State Warriors eliminating the Houston Rockets for the fourth time in five seasons.

                                                                                      And now that the aforementioned Conference Semifinals have concluded, the Conference Finals kick off, with Game 1 of the Trail Blazers-Warriors series set for tomorrow and Game 1 of the Raptors-Bucks series set for Wednesday.

                                                                                      Each matchup is listed via the bullet points below:

  • #3 Portland Trail Blazers Vs. #1 Golden State Warriors-The Trail Blazers pushed the Nuggets to a second consecutive Game 7. But unlike the San Antonio Spurs, they succeeded in defeating the league’s best home team during the regular season. And now they have to do what the Rockets failed to do last round, which was dethrone the Warriors. And speaking of the Warriors, they got extremely lucky without Kevin Durant in their Game 6 victory against the aforementioned Rockets. However, they might not be able to get through a whole series without Durant, as he could very well be out for this entire series. The Warriors long run of Western Conference supremacy is similar to the Utah Jazz being back-to-back Western Conference champions in the late ‘90s, in terms of how predictable them winning has become. But the Jazz haven’t been to the NBA Finals since 1998, as they were dethroned the following season in the Western Conference by you guessed it, the Trail Blazers. Will Damian Lillard & Company follow in the footsteps of that 1998-99 team? I’m going to say yes and they will do it in six games to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1992.
  • #2 Toronto Raptors Vs. #1 Milwaukee Bucks-The Raptors prized off-season acquisition (Kawhi Leonard) carried them to victory in Game 7 against the Sixers, as the 2014 NBA Finals MVP scored 41 points, including the dramatic buzzer-beating 15-foot jump shot along the baseline, to propel the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in franchise history. As for the Bucks, they have played the least amount of playoff games (nine) of all four remaining teams, as they plowed through both the Detroit Pistons and Celtics thus far. The Bucks haven’t been to the NBA Finals since 1974 and haven’t won an NBA championship since 1971. Will their Eastern Conference title drought end or will the lone NBA team in Canada advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history? As great as Giannis Anteokounmpo has been all season, it’s hard for me to go against a Kawhi Leonard-led team. So with that being said, I got the Raptors winning and I got them also winning in six.

                                                                                 Well, that’s it for this edition of Steve Believes. Tune in on the eve (May 29) of the 2019 NBA Finals to find out who I will pick to win that series. So until then, so long everybody!