So the regular season is wrapping with only about 7-8 games for just about every team in the NBA and with the playoffs rapidly approaching there really aren’t any consensus picks for this year’s NBA Finals. Kevin Durant going to Phoenix arguably gave us a betting Las Vegas favorite but we are no longer in the days where whatever team LeBron James was in was the odds-on favorite to take home the Larry O’ Brien trophy; quite frankly because he just isn’t the player he once was in the 2010’s. No one has defied age in this lifetime and LeBron is no different than any of the other 8 million human beings on planet earth; despite possessing incredible genes he just can’t sustain full level intensity on both ends of the floor for 35+ minutes for a span of at least 70+ games any longer in the NBA. Enough about LeBron James, I certainly think he’s got a shot at winning at least one more title in his career but only if he manages to get Irving on the Lakers this summer or if he goes somewhere like the Cavaliers,Heat,or Warriors within the next 2-3 seasons. As far as this season goes, it’s really a wide-open race and my gut tells me the winner will come from the Eastern Conference.
The Western Conference has been highly competitive all season but at the end of the day playoff basketball is a different animal so I don’t see a team like the New Orleans Pelicans even if Zion Williamson manages to come back getting very far; but then again it is Zion Williamson and I’m sure he’s seeking to make some magic happen when ever he does get on the court because it just doesn’t seem like he’ll be a star who’ll be playing beyond 16-17 years at the NBA level a la a Kobe Bryant,Tim Duncan, or LeBron James, 3 superstars who transcended the game of basketball for decades. I’ll make a wildly bold prediction and predict that the Memphis Grizzlies will square off against the Phoenix Suns in the Conference Finals with the Grizzlies pulling off the massive upset against the Suns in a series which likely goes the distance but I just can’t deny the killer instinct of a Ja Morant. He’s had his troubles off the court but on the court his mentality is reminiscent to a Kobe Bryant, I felt it when I saw him will the Grizzlies to a huge win against Golden State in last year’s semi-finals, where he exploded for 47 points and hit clutch shot after shot and Golden State was at his very mercy down the stretch of that game.
Out East there is no denying the stellar season the Philadelphia 76ers have enjoyed with Joel Embiid and James Harden staying healthy for the most part and them both settling into their respective roles but even with the improved depth I’m just not buying them getting out of the Eastern Conference. Sad because Joel has been on a mission to be crowned MVP but only two teams can make the Conference Finals and those teams will be the Celtics and Bucks in what would be a rematch of last season’s semi-finals; and unfortunately I see Giannis Antetokoumpo going down once again to the Boston Celtics even with Khris Middleton back in this year’s starting lineup. I think Boston is a different team this season, not because they are seeking vengeance for last year’s debacle in the Finals against the Warriors but because I don’t believe their offense will be a problem this time around like it was last season practically in every round they played. They gave Milwaukee life despite Giannis’s vintage LeBron like performances and almost gave the series away on a silver platter to the Heat in the Conference Finals. Golden State just saw the chink in their armor and capitalized on their erratic play down the stretch of close games in the Finals.
Another difference is Jaylen Brown is no longer surprising anyone when he scores 25+ points. He’s here and he is here to stay for at least another 6-7 years at the NBA level and will be one of the league’s brightest stars for years to come. I’m sure he is playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove to the Boston faithful he’s good enough to be the second best player on a championship level team. So to wrap up we have a Celtics-Grizzlies Finals and I’m taking the Celtics in 6 over the Grizzlies with Jayson Tatum winning Finals MVP as he embarks on his path to having his name on the rafters at TD Garden one day along with other Boston legends such as Bill Russell,Larry Bird,John Havlicek, and Paul Pierce. Ja Morant’s time for glory will come eventually and I wouldn’t put it past him if he manages to beat the Boston Celtics but that happening would just be way too premature based off his career trajectory, every superstar takes his lumps before eventually getting to the top and Ja needs to straighten out his priorities at the moment. Boston? Them winning it last year would’ve been the perfect Cinderella Story based off the turn-around they made coming off what was a mediocre first half last season but with Tatum making his mark as one of the top 5 players in the NBA this season it’s perfect timing to go Mamba mode like Kobe Bryant did 2009.