ASA’s NBA Conference Finals Predictions
Milwaukee Bucks -$270 over Toronto Raptors – The Bucks are coming out of the East! We predicted the Bucks before the Playoffs started and will stick to our original prognosis. Milwaukee has played well in the post-season and it hasn’t all been attributed to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Eric Bledsoe is averaging 16PPG in the playoffs on 47.8% shooting, Khris Middleton had a few rough shooting nights in the first two rounds but did average 16PPG in the series against the Celtics. Pat Connaughton and George Hill also provided some invaluable minutes off the bench for the Bucks in the first two rounds. Not to mention the Bucks get starter Malcolm Brogdon back for this series who makes them even deeper yet. Throw in the ‘bigs’ of Lopez, Mirotic and Ilyasova and you have a floor-spacing, 3-ball-makin bunch that are tough to defend. With the floor spaced it only make Giannis that much tougher to defend as he gets to the rim at will or drives and unselfishly kicks to open shooters. Game 7 of the Toronto/Philly series is a perfect example of why the Raptors won’t win this Eastern Conference Finals. You can’t rely solely on Kawhi Leonard to win a series. Leonard made a miraculous shot to win Game 7 against Philadelphia and put up 41 points in the process. It took Kawhi 39 shots to get to 41 and there were several opportunities for other players to take open shots, but they were reluctant to do so. Kyle Lowry is a notorious choker in the post-season, Pascal Siakam is a up-and-comer but still young and in an unfamiliar role. Marc Gasol is an adequate center but past his prime and not a rim protector. The rest of the supporting cast for the Raptors just isn’t good enough to provide Leonard with help to win this series. The Milwaukee Bucks had some of the best overall efficiency numbers during the regular season, and are the ONLY team left that have BETTER offensive and defensive efficiency numbers in the playoffs compared to the regular season. The Bucks are 60-19 SU as a favorite this season with a 35-15 SU record versus other playoff teams this season. Let’s not forget just how dominate the Bucks have been this season as 52 of their 68 wins have come by double-digits. Milwaukee beat this Raptors three of four this regulars season and rolls through this series in 6 games.
Golden State Warriors -$550 over Portland Trailblazers – Golden State is coming out of the West…again. But this isn’t going to be as easy as you think. Golden State has some key injuries to Boogie Cousins and Kevin Durant along with a dislocated finger on Steph Curry’s non-shooting hand. We don’t know when Cousins and Durant will be back, and Curry will play through the pain but there is still that ‘unknown’ with this roster. Give the Warriors and coach Steve Kerr credit for their Game 6 win over Houston as they went back to the old style of play (before Durant) and turned Steph and Klay loose. Will it work against this Portland team now that they have time to prepare for it? That’s a big unknown right now. One thing we know for sure is that it’s going to be hard for the Warriors to hide Steph Curry defensively against Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but we don’t feel the rest of the supporting cast for Portland can propel this team to the NBA Finals. The Blazers did split with the Warriors this season and won 3 of four the year before so they can beat this team but none of those wins were in the playoffs which is a whole different level of play. Portland’s offensive and defensive efficiency numbers are worse in the post-season while the Warriors are better offensively but worse defensively. A big reason why the Warriors defensive numbers suffered in the playoffs was the fact they played two top 10 offensive efficiency teams from the regular season in the Clippers and Rockets. Golden State got gradually better defensively as the regular season wore on and finished 13th in D.E.F.F. Portland finished in the bottom half of the league in D.E.F.F. and was barely better defensively than a Clippers team the Warriors dispatched of in the first round. At some point it’s very likely the Warriors will get Boogie and KD back and their depth at that point becomes too much for the Blazers to overcome.
NBA FINALS: Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks