NBA Conference Finals Preview
In the end, the top two teams from the East and the top two from the West punched their way into the final four still vying for that golden trophy. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers could make history by facing each other in the NBA finals for the third straight year. Only the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics can spoil that outcome. The Spurs and Warriors already met for Game 1 of their conference final with Golden State recording the victory. They are set to square off Tuesday night and FanPicks offers this fantasy basketball contest right here. Here is the NBA conference finals preview:
Season matchups (2-1 SAS)
The San Antonio Spurs were on their way to a shocking win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals until star small forward Kawhi Leonard went down with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and the Golden State Warriors responded with a big rally. Leonard will be on the sidelines for Game 2.
The Spurs led by as much as 25 points and were up 23 when Leonard landed on Golden State center Zaza Pachulia’s foot after attempting a jump shot with 7:53 left in the third quarter, forcing him out of the game for good. Leonard scored 26 points in 24 minutes before leaving the opener. The Warriors immediately went on an 18-0 run and outscored San Antonio 58-33 after Leonard’s exit en route to a 113-111 triumph. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge tried to pick up the slack while posting 28 points but missed a tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The Spurs can look to recent history when starting a game without Leonard after crushing the Houston Rockets 114-75 with the star on the bench in the clinching game of the conference semifinals.
Season matchups (3-1 CLE)
Powering to a pair of sweeps in the first two rounds, the Cavaliers meet a Celtics team that had to go the distance against Washington to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2012. James is in this round for the seventh straight time, having last been stopped short of the NBA’s final four when the Celtics beat the Cavs in the 2010 East semifinals. Love has averaged a quiet 13.8 points in the post-season but should be eager to pick it up against a Celtics team that knocked him out of the 2015 playoffs when he became tangled with Olynyk and dislocated his shoulder. Horford is averaging 16.1 points on 64 per cent shooting, while Olynyk scored a playoff career-high 26 in the Game 7 clincher Monday.
Cleveland rang up 116.3 points per game against Boston this season. LeBron James led the Cavs with 29.3 points per game in the 4 matchups between the two teams. The first three games were decided by six or fewer before the Cavaliers rolled to a 114-91 victory in Boston on April 5, a win that at the time had the defending champions in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage. But the Celtics did manage to rebound and earn the top seed in the East. Isaiah Thomas averaged 29.5 points for the Celtics vs. the Cavaliers.