The NBA Conference Finals begin tonight so our staff is here with their thoughts on who will win each series and head onto the 2019 NBA Finals.
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (2) Toronto Raptors
Benjamin Bornstein: Bucks in 6. Giannis is too good and Kawhi will not be able to carry the Raptors like he did against the 76ers. Milwaukee has more solid and consistent players than Philly did and that will be the difference in this series.
Michael De Leon: Bucks in 6. This is the one everyone has been waiting on. Giannis vs. Kawhi should be quite a battle, but Milwaukee is the deeper team and they have more players that have been stepping up when it counts. They have several players they can count on for scoring, while Toronto sometimes lives and dies with Kawhi and Pascal Siakam.
Jason Guilbault: Milwaukee in 5 – Kawhi Leonard carried the Raptors to a Game 7 series over Philly, while Milwaukee made quick work of Boston. Giannis Vs. Kawhi is going to be a treat to watch, but the series will be won with the surrounding options, and therefore I go with Milwaukee.
Agustin Ibanez-Baldor: The Raptors just won game 7 in amazing fashion. They also scored under 100 in three games. And under 110 in all but two. The Bucks have scored under 100 once all playoffs. Ditto for under 110. Bucks in 6.
Mackenzie Rivers: Toronto Raptors over Bucks in 6. The Bucks have been the better team all season, but thrive on an open game. The Raptors have shown they can muck things up. Toronto has held their opponents under their team total in 9 out of 12 games these playoffs. If they can make this a half-court rock fight, Kawhi Leonard’s superior half-court precision and mid-range game will win out.
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (3) Portland Trail Blazers
Bornstein: Warriors in 5. The Blazers have been awesome to watch, but they do not have the studs to match up with Golden State. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will be great, but that’s about it. The possibility of Kevin Durant coming back also looms large.
De Leon: Warriors in 6. If not for Kevin Durant being sidelined tonight and possibly for Game 2, I might give this to the Warriors in five. The Blazers are the team everyone roots for in this series. It’s like the little engine that could, but the Warriors and the talent disparity they present will be too much of a challenge to overcome. I give Portland two wins and at least a few games where Lillard goes off on Steph.
Guilbault: Warriors in 6 – Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum come in with a lot to prove, and could take advantage of Kevin Durant’s injury. However, still leaning with the reigning NBA champs with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala giving them an edge.
Ibanez-Baldor: Warriors in 6. The Rockets were the biggest threat to the Warriors in the West and they choked in crazy fashion. Blazers avoid a sweep because KD will be out a couple of games and they do still have CJ/Dame.
Rivers: GSW over Portland in 5. As great as the Blazers backcourt has played, they don’t have the pedigree of the splash brothers and are less accustomed to the league’s biggest stages. Even if the backcourts are equal, the Warriors will exploit the Blazers thin froncourt, with Draymond Green (& maybe later, Durant) exposing Enes Kanter’s flaws and inexperience.