The Golden State Warriors have officially clinched their 3rd straight trip to the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have a 2–1 lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. So let’s take a look at each series and the top stories in the NBA right now.
Warriors Clinch Finals Berth
The Golden State Warriors have not lost a game since April 10th. In that game, the Warriors were without Klay Thompson. So, when was their last loss at full strength? It’s been a while.
Heading into the Finals, the Warriors are 12–0 in the playoffs and have won 27 of their last 28 games.
Who they will face in the Finals has yet to be determined. But Warriors owner Joe Lacob was not shy about admitting who he wants to face.
Lacob also mentioned that the Warriors “have some unfinished business from last season.”
With the start of the Finals over a week away, Golden State will have plenty of time to rest before their chance at completing their unfinished business. This should help both Pachulia and Iguodala fully recover from the injuries that had been bothering them in the Spurs series.
The break should also give Warriors head coach Steve Kerr more time to recover from his recurring back issues. As of now, his status for the Finals is to be determined.
San Antonio’s Future
After Kawhi went down with an ankle injury in game one, the Spurs’ hopes of going to the Finals for the first time since 2014 went down the drain.
With Leonard, the series could have been much different. Had he been healthy, San Antonio likely holds on to win game one and heads back to San Antonio with the series at least tied 1–1. Leonard was playing at an elite level, and with the series tied they would have had a real shot to dethrone the Warriors. Now, we’ll have to wait until next season to see if they can do that. But this team could look a lot different next season.
As for their future, the Spurs have a lot of decisions to make. First, Manu Ginobili will have to decide if he’s going to return next season. Last night Manu said he’d make that decision sometime in the next few weeks.
Next, Pau Gasol must choose if he wants to opt in to the final year of his deal worth $16 million. At age 36, it’s unlikely Pau will get that much money elsewhere and he’ll probably lean towards opting in. In which case, the Spurs will not have much money to spend in free agency.
At age 35, Tony Parker’s best days are behind him. Not to mention, he was sidelined with an injury for most of the playoffs. He has one year left on his deal, and might be better off as a back-up moving forward. Since Patty Mills will be a free agent as well, the Spurs would be wise to look at point guards in free agency this summer.
If Pau opts out, the Spurs could have enough money to go after CP3 or Kyle Lowry in free agency. They could also look to trade Gasol’s contract if he were to opt in. If either of those guards want to come to San Antonio, moving Gasol seems like a no-brainer.
Similarly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs at least consider moving LaMarcus Aldridge this summer. It’s no secret he was a disappointment in the playoffs and since he could be a free agent in 2018, his value is only going to go down from here.
At this point, the Spurs need to build around Kawhi Leonard. When healthy, Leonard has proven to be a top 5 player in the league, and if anyone has a shot to take down Golden State in the West it’s San Antonio.
If you add an elite point guard to the mix, this team could be really scary next season.
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals was one of the most lopsided games in playoff history. Heading into halftime, the Cavs led by 41 thanks to a dominant first half capped off by a ridiculous shot from JR Smith.
LeBron has been playing at a historic level this post-season and he continued that trend in game 2.
For the Celtics, getting crushed in game 2 wasn’t even the worst thing that happened to them that night. Isaiah Thomas was ruled out for the rest of the series with a hip injury in game 2. At this point, it seemed Boston would get swept easily.
To everyone’s surprise, the Celtics came back and got the win on the road in Cleveland in game 3. They trailed by as much as 21 in the game, but Marcus Smart had the game of his life, which helped keep Boston within striking distance.
Down the stretch, Brad Stevens’ brilliant out of bounds play helped free up Avery Bradley who knocked down the game-winner for Boston.
Throughout the game, we were waiting for LeBron to take over and put the Celtics away. But for whatever reason, he could not get into any sort of rhythm in the game.
James finished with 11 points and 6 turnovers in 45 minutes. This was undoubtedly his worst playoff game since he disappeared against the Mavericks in game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
Perhaps fatigue played a factor, as James is averaging the most minutes per game of anyone still in the playoffs.
Now, the Cavs have a 2–1 lead heading into game 4 tonight where you can expect a major bounce back game from LeBron.
Barring another major surprise, the Cavs should be able to close out this series in the next two games.
If that happens, it looks like we are heading toward Warriors-Cavs round 3.
- The Lakers are pretty confident they can land Paul George in 2018 free agency.
- Paul Millsap will opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- Serge Ibaka has basically agreed to re-sign with the Raptors on a deal starting around $20 million per season.
- Dwight Howard has parted ways with his agent. Howard has not fit well with the Hawks and they could look to trade him this summer.
- There is mutual interest between the Sixers and Kyle Lowry in free agency.
- Dion Waiters prefers to stay with the Miami Heat in free agency.
- Mo Speights will opt out of his deal with the Clippers and become an unrestricted free agent.