It’s been a long season, even though it was shortened by ten games, and we are coming ever closer to the NBA Finals.
With four teams left playing against each other and both series have several games completed, the matchup for the championship series is nearly set. Each matchup has unique stories to let us enjoy what’s going on in the NBA as the postseason comes to a close.
Four Special Teams are Left
The merger that took place between the ABA and NBA brought all teams together into one large league. This merger happened in 1976, which was 45 years ago. Since that merger happened, none of the four teams that are still playing have won the title. No matter who wins, the team that will be crowned as champions will be a team that accomplishes something that hasn’t happened since the merger took place.
Injuries have Been a Big Part of the Playoffs
Not all injuries are created equal. In basketball, one player can impact the game much more than in any other sport. During the playoffs, it seems the star players have been the ones sidelined with injuries the most. This problem has been a glaring issue when leaders of teams have not been available to play during these series. While there aren’t more injuries than most other years, the fact that the stars are going down has caused some concern.
Let’s Look at the Western Conference Finals
The Western Conference Finals has the Phoenix Suns as the higher seed going against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are one of the teams that have faced the injury bug with their top player, Kawhi Leonard out for all games of this series so far. The Suns began the series without Chris Paul, but that was due to COVID-19 protocols and he is back in the series.
The Clippers are hanging on to the series and it seems they keep coming up off the mat to fight back and push toward more games. As of the time of this writing, the Suns hold a 3-2 series lead with Game Six on Wednesday, June 30. The Clippers have leaned on Paul George to lead the way and help them continue to play. George has performed masterfully and just might be strong enough to carry his team to the NBA Finals.
This series highlights a few other main characters. Devin Booker is the bright young star for the Phoenix Suns and is certainly on the rise. The other highlight doesn’t go to a player but to Ty Lue, the head coach of the Clippers. For three series in a row, the Clippers have had to come back from down 2-0 and much of their recovery is due to the leadership and adjustments of Ty Lue.
Reviewing the Eastern Conference Finals
On the other side of the NBA playoffs, we have the Eastern Conference finals with an unlikely team in the Atlanta Hawks going against a team trying to get over the hump in the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams have faced injuries to their stars with Trae Young being sidelined for Game 4 so far and Giannis Antetokounmpo getting injured in Game 4. The question for this series is whether or not these teams can outlast these injuries.
So far, the Hawks have proved they can handle an injury to their star player. They won Game 4 with a score of 110-88 without Young. Other players stepped up and met the challenge and head coach Nate McMillan installed one of the toughest defenses against the Bucks that we’ve ever seen.
Currently, the Eastern Conference Finals sit at a tie of 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for July 1. Will the Bucks get their star back or will role players have to step up and offer much better performances than in Game 4? Will Trae Young be back on the court for the Hawks and help this team make their way to the NBA Finals? These are the questions that we’ll get answers to as this series moves along.
An Exciting Time for the NBA
If you’re not paying attention to the path being taken to the NBA Finals, you’re missing out. We don’t have the typical heavyweights playing for the title, there isn’t anything that looks like a foregone conclusion, the path isn’t clear for any team. All four teams left standing have a real chance to win the title with no clear favorites showing through yet.