2018 NBA Playoff preview: We should all expect another Cavs-Warriors Finals

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KYRIE IRVING COMPETING IN HIS FIRST FINALS: Former Cleveland Cavaliers guard, Kyrie Irving, dribbles up the court in his first NBA Finals. Irving is no longer with Cleveland, but hopes to disrupt a fourth Cavaliers-Warriors Finals.

Dylan O'Shea, Staff Writer

The Warriors and Cavaliers are the clear favorites to be in the NBA finals once again this year as the two teams are continuing to dominate for the fourth straight year.

There are lots contenders hunting for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Right now, the NBA is about 60 games in, and most teams know what to expect, as far as, playoff hopes.

If the NBA season ended today, then at the bottom of the playoff bracket (the eighth seeded teams) would be the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat.

The Nuggets of the Western Conference would face the first-seeded Houston Rockets. Houston currently has 15 straight wins, the lead candidate for Most Valuable Player in James Harden, one of the best point-guards of all-time in Chris Paul, and a great seven-footer in Clint Capela.

At this point in time, the Denver Nuggets do not have the defensive prowess to stop this offensive juggernaut. Denver has too many young players to even match up with Houston. The prediction is that Houston advances in a 4-0 sweep, but Denver keeps Houston on high-alert with a couple close games.

The eighth-seeded in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat, would play the first-seeded Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are a great unit led by star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, talented point guard Kyle Lowry and a veteran core who are very experienced in the playoffs.

Miami is a defensive team whose story is not told by their seeding. They are led by seasoned veterans Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade. The Raptors All-Stars Lowry and DeRozan are great, but do have a tendency to underperform in the playoffs. Despite that, the prediction is that the Raptors will nudge out the Heat 4-2.

The seventh-seeded teams in the two conferences are the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks will have to play the Boston Celtics, and the Oklahoma City Thunder will see arguably the most dominant force the league has ever seen and the reigning NBA Champs, the Golden State Warriors.

The Bucks are a defensive team that has two reliable offensive players. They are led by perennial top-five player Giannis Antetokounmpo and injury-prone star Jabari Parker. However, the Celtics are led by superstar Kyrie Irving, and one of the best coaching staffs that the league has to offer.

Irving will be the x-factor in this series. He was a part of the 2016 Cavalier championship team and has stepped up when his team needs him the most. Irving has two 40 point outbursts in the playoffs and averages 23.9 points per game on an efficient 46.5 field goal percentage through 52 playoff outings. The prediction is that the Celtics win 4-1 in a low scoring series.

Sophomore Andrew Brucato said, “The Celtics are a really tough, good team. They can beat almost every team in the NBA. I don’t think Milaukee can take them.”

The Thunder are a very top-heavy offensive-minded team that seems to not care for the other side of the floor very much. Oklahoma City does have great leaders in Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

The Warriors, on the other hand, are almost perfect whenever they step onto the floor. Led by future NBA Hall of Famers Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, who are also currently top-five players, the Warriors are practically unbeatable. The Warriors win this series against the Thunder 4-2.

The six-seeded squads in each conference are currently the very old San Antonio Spurs and the young Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers will have to play the team that has been featured in the last three NBA Finals with Golden State, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The experienced Spurs team would have to play the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 76ers are led by sophomore center Joel Embiid and lead Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons. The Cavaliers are led by the best player in the league LeBron James, and five-time all-star Kevin Love. The Cavaliers have a very good offensive core and a decent defensive energy. James takes his game to another level in the playoffs, so the Cavs will win 4-0.

Sophomore Adam Goldberg said, “The Sixers are a young team with a ton of upside. They won’t win this one, but they would give Cleveland a fight.”

The Spurs are a team that is experienced and very serious come playoff time. They are led by coaching and superb team-oriented basketball rather than running their entire offense through star players. The Portland Trail Blazers are led by four time all-star Damian Lillard and knockdown shooter C.J. McCollum. This series will be dragged out and long. No team will give an inch of space, but the Spurs will edge Portland out 4-3.

The fifth seeds play the fourth seeds next. The fifth-seeded rosters are the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Washington Wizards. The Timberwolves will, at the moment, play the New Orleans Pelicans. Washington will go up against the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers are flourishing since trading Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Indiana traded for first-time all-star Victor Oladipo. He has been the life of this Pacer team, averaging 24.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.

Washington, on the flip side, is a very composed team led by all-stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. The off-court problems makes Washington vulnerable, which is mostly terrible chemistry with Wall. Multiple players think Wall holds the ball too much during games. Since Washington does not have a stable leader, the prediction is that the Pacers win 4-2.

The Timberwolves have a team that has potential to go far in the playoffs. Their best player, Jimmy Butler, and coach Tom Thibeadou are both extremely experienced.

The Pelicans have the same upside. Their two stars, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, are both playoff ready and experienced. They are currently on a 10-game win streak, which is the longest in franchise history. During the historic win streak, the Louisianan team has been led by Davis’s absurd 37.3 points and Holiday’s steady 25.9 points. The Pelicans will just squeeze by the Wolves 4-3.

This concludes the first round and would leave the following matchups: Houston Rockets versus New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors verses Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors verses San Antonio Spurs, and Boston Celtics verses Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Rockets, at this point, would have come off a 4-0 sweep rested and fresh. The Pelicans would be tired and would not know where to look as most of the players have not played in big games like this. To win four games against the Rockets would be a miracle. Houston wins 4-1.

The Raptors-Pacers series will be much closer as both teams would be coming off of a long series. Bets are that DeRozan and Lowry fall under pressure again and give Indiana too much room to work with. Indiana goes back to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2013, winning in a 4-2 series.

The Golden State Warriors will have another walk-in-the-park type of series. They play the broken-down Spurs that want their injured Kawhi Leonard back. Leonard was injured in the Western Conference Finals last year against the Warriors and has not been back since. The Spurs lost that series 4-0, and this series will be a repeat.

The Cavaliers will play the Celtics for the third time in four years. James’ former wingman Irving will pull out all stops to try to win, but James will be able to beat him this time. The Cavaliers win 4-2.

The Conference Finals will start after this, and fans will hope for even more more amazing moments. The Cavs will play the Pacers, and Houston will play Golden State.

The Cavaliers will show the Indiana Pacers why their team has been to the Finals three years in a row. James will try to show the Warriors and the Rockets what they are made of, destroying Indiana in a 4-0 sweep.

The Warriors-Rockets matchup will be very entertaining. They have the two best records in the NBA. This series is hard to judge because both have been amazing this season. However, history will repeat itself for the fourth straight year and the Warriors will win in a hard fought series 4 to 3.

The Cavaliers and Warriors will play again in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers will give the Warriors a fight because they would have played four extra games, but the Warriors will win 4-3, and Curry will earn his first NBA Finals MVP.

Who are the teams that you have making the Finals, and what teams will make a big impact?