The NBA playoffs are always an eventful time for sports, with new stars emerging and big games taken over by bigger players. While the regular season matters, the playoffs show who the real stars are and which teams are meant to make it all the way.
This year, many of the playoffs teams were led by young players trying to make a name for themselves: players like Ja Morant, Devin Booker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, and others.
First-round series were taken over by the favorites, with the higher seed winning every series. Some major surprises were the Boston Celtics sweeping the Brooklyn Nets in four games. While the Celtics were favored, most expected that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would lead the Nets to take the series to six or seven games. The Celtics defense swarmed both Durant and Irving, nearly shutting them down on the way to a series sweep. Analysts predicted the series of the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets to be very close. However, Steph Curry led the Warriors with 28.0 points per game to a five-game series win.
The second round brought way more conflict, as every series took at least six games to finish with two series going to seven games. The biggest surprise came in the Phoenix Suns series against the Dallas Mavericks. The Suns were the best, record-wise, team in the NBA and were expected to (at least) make the NBA championship. This was the thought, until 23-year-old Luka Doncic walked into Phoenix, leading the Mavericks with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists per game over the series. In game seven, Doncic and the Mavericks annihilated the Suns with a 30-point lead at halftime. The Mavericks cruised to the win and moved on to the Western Conference Finals.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, more drama came as the Miami Heat faced off with the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have now been to four of the last six Eastern Conference Finals, but are yet to win in those four appearances. However, the Heat also have their fair share of playoff experience, being in the NBA Finals just two years ago. Going into the series, no one knew who was going to come out of it alive, and there were mixed predictions for both sides. Each individual game throughout the series were blowouts with one team taking over, but every game the team blowing out would switch. The series ended up going to seven games and was one of the closest series of the entire playoffs.
The other side of the Conference Finals was the complete opposite. The matchup of the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks was run completely by the Warriors. They blew the Mavericks out in nearly every game, winning the series in five games, moving on to the NBA Finals
The NBA Finals is expected to be an amazing series between the young Boston Celtics and the experienced Golden State Warriors. Warriors star Steph Curry and Celtics star Jayson Tatum each have been playing great throughout the playoffs and are expected to continue it through the NBA Finals. I predict that the Warriors experience will outweigh the young athletic ability of the Celtics and lead to a Warriors NBA Championship win in six games.