We look at the current playoff picture and examine the chances of getting a rematch of last year's NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and the Warriors, the teams favored on the NBA odds boards to win their respective conferences.
The Cavaliers and Warriors might win their Conference Finals series (the Warriors just advanced to the Western Conference Finals while the Cavs reached the Eastern Conference and are 8-0 in the postseason), but their path to the NBA Finals and setting up a rematch from last year won't be easy. Let's look at the potential opponents for both teams, how they matchup and if any of them can beat the NBA odds and spoil the NBA Finals rematch that many want to see.
Pinnacle had the Cleveland Cavaliers as -3700 favorites to win their first round series against the Detroit Pistons (who were at +1700 to upset the Cavaliers). The Pistons improved from 32 victories to 44 and they're among just five teams to beat both Cleveland and Golden State in the regular season, but they leave the defensive end of the floor unattended some nights and it was evident in this series. The Pistons played extremely well in Game 1 and almost beat them but with James, Irving and Love healthy and performing at a high level, the Cavs swept them.
The Cavaliers faced the Hawks in the second round, an intriguing matchup because it was a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals (when Cleveland swept Atlanta 4-0) and because both teams were peaking at the right time. The Cavaliers won the season series 3-0, which means that they had prevailed in their last seven games against the Hawks. This year was not any different for Atlanta and they were swept as well.
Eastern Conference Finals
The Toronto Raptors proved that they have what it takes to get to the Conference Finals and put up a fight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto won their first round series with the Indiana Pacers and then they faced the Miami Heat, with both series going to seven games. The Raptors have enough talent to cause trouble for the Cavaliers, although last night's 115-84 loss in Game 1 proved that they have a long way to go if they want to steal at least one game on the road. Toronto did win the season series 2-1, but this Cleveland team is healthy, focused and motivated and they can neutralize the Raptors' main weapons and set the tone in most games, especially at home, so back the Cavs with your NBA picks to reach the NBA Finals once again.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors dominated the Houston Rockets in their first round series despite not having Stephen Curry in Game 2 because he sprained his ankle in Game 1. With or without Curry, the Rockets just didn't have the talent or drive to compete with the Warriors. On paper, Houston had plenty of decent players but the Warriors were extremely well-coached and all their players understood their role and were ready to step up.
The Warriors faced the surprising Portland Trail Blazers and won the series 4-1. These two teams matched up pretty well and both had deep benches and experienced head coaches. Stephen Curry returned 100 percent healthy in Game 4 and he was the difference as expected but the series was closer than expected.
Western Conference Finals
It's a shame that we won't be able to see the San Antonio Spurs matching up with the Golden State Warriors, but the Oklahoma City Thunder with their dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook will be worthy opponents that will make this a close and exciting series. This could have been the NBA Finals matchup, as both teams deserve to play at such a grand stage. Sadly, just one of them can represent the West. Still, we will get to see them play each other in an exciting series that can go to seven games. The Warriors did win the season series 3-0, but two of the games were close and the playoffs are a whole different story. Still, unless Curry or Thompson don't play, I like the Warriors to reach the NBA Finals again, in a rematch with the Cavaliers.