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NBA Conference Finals Preview and Predictions Suggest The Best is Yet to Come

The final four NBA teams are established and we're looking at the series previews for Heat vs. Celtics and Warriors vs. Mavericks.

After epic, down-to-the-wire game sevens, the Conference Finals are set.

I was just kidding. Both games were blowouts, particularly the hall of fame-worthy choke job by the Phoenix Suns, who were already down by a whopping 50 points at halftime against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. 

As for the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics proved to be too well-rounded of a team and down the Milwaukee Bucks 109-81. This, despite 25 points and 20 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Conference finals will now be the Golden State Warriors vs the Dallas Mavericks, and the Boston Celtics versus the Miami Heat.

Heat vs. Celtics

Jimmy Butler has been next level during these playoffs. Butler is averaging 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.1 steals while posting a 61.8 true shooting percentage. He's playing out of his mind and leading the Heat through these playoffs. The Boston Celtics, however, do have much better wings and defensive players than the 76ers did. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are galaxies ahead of a player like James Harden on defense, and they're certainly going to make Butler work harder than he did in the previous series, though. They're not going to shut down Butler. Heat breakout player Max Strus has emerged, but the Celtics wings may have a better chance at shutting him down. 

Jayson Tatum managed to lead the NBA in defensive win shares. He's a superstar and a team leader, and he's going to have a huge series as well. The Celtics are far too well balanced for this Heat team, and I've got to think the Celtics take this series in six or seven games. Between Derrick White in the backcourt, Tatum and Brown as the wings, the Celtics have an elite defense. They just have too many weapons, despite Jimmy Butler being the best player on the floor.

Celtics in 7.

Mavericks vs. Warriors

Luka Doncic is going to go off. I think Doncic is going to play like Michael Jordan in this series? Why? Gary Payton II is almost certainly not going to play, and he's the best backcourt defender the Warriors have. 

I suppose Draymond Green could do his patented shtick and kick Doncic below the belt, but barring that, the Warriors will not have an answer for him. With that established, the Mavericks aren't going to win this series on the strength of Doncic alone. Spencer Dinwiddie is going to have to be Scottie Pippen's to Doncic's Jordan. Since the Mavericks acquired Dinwiddie, he has posted a 19.0 PER, his career highest. He's also shot %40 from outside as a Maverick, which is also his career-high. Dinwiddie struggled through much of the playoffs, but he busted out in game seven against the Suns. If Dinwiddie goes off, the Mavericks are going to upset the Warriors. 

The Mavericks aren't just Doncic and the boys. Jason Kidd and staff found something that shut down Chris Paul and Devin Booker in game seven. If they can deploy a similar game plan to Stephen Curry, this truly could be an upset. That said, who is shutting down Stephen Curry for extended periods? It's happened, but it's difficult to do. 

As for the Warriors, they will go as far as Klay Thompson goes. If Thompson plays like the Klay Thompson of a few years ago, the Warriors are going to rain down jumpers on the Mavericks. Stephen Curry has shown his age and humanity this season, as his overall shooting numbers are down. They're still better than most other guards, but it's not up to the efficiency that his reputation as the 'greatest shooter ever' has established. As reductive as it sounds, this series could boil down to Doncic/Dinwiddie versus Thompson/Curry. I'm going for it:

Mavericks in 6.

Last Thoughts

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