NBA playoffs 2018 is another round close to deciding a winner as we look forward to the conference finals. Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will fight out for the crown of East and Golden State Warriors will face Houston Rockets as they look to defend their title. A sneak at what went right for these 4 teams in their conference semi-finals matchups.
● Toronto Raptors vs Cleveland Cavaliers:
Toronto got absolutely obliterated by Cavs in this series which ended in a sweep. No one expected Toronto to be this bad but their struggles against a LeBron James team continued this year as well. Cavs winning the game 1 miraculously at Toronto shifted the momentum towards them. Grinding out a win after not a great showing by LeBron and getting the first lead in overtime and Raptors missing all their easy chances to seal the deal, set a belief in their camp that they can take these guys any day. Game 2, brought out a terrorizing performance by James who looked unstoppable. Every fadeaway he hit brought the energy out of the players. Cleveland took all the momentum back home and sealed the series by a LeBron game winner in game 3 and a blow out in game 4.
James’ supporting cast was alive and performing in this series after a struggle against Indiana. They will be facing an energetic and hungry Celtics team who have been doing wonders.
● Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics:
Boston Celtics completely defied their underdog status in this series and are showing the world that they are something special. They outplayed the 6ers in their offensive and defensive executions in the whole series. Ben Simmons had a bad series and Joel Embid was not great as well. 6ers had a difficult time executing their offense against an extraordinary Celtics defense. They played with grit and energy and always looked to humble their matchups. Brad Stevens ran a systematic offensive scheme with his guys regularly. Their production was never a problem on that end of the floor. He is having a legendary playoffs run. His ATOs has been pure quality and has been game deciding. But for 6ers, it was a satisfying season after being in the lottery for so long. They lost this series due to their mistakes in late game situations as they blew away two close games. Celtics will advance as an underdog again but, they sure look scary and are matching up well against the Cavs.
● Golden State Warriors vs New Orleans Pelicans:
Warriors took care of business in 5 games against the Pelicans winning all their matches at a comfortable margin. Warrior’s ‘Hampton 5’ was too much for the Pelicans in the series. Pelicans allowed Warriors to score 115 points, every time they won. It was all about the defense for the Pelicans, but execution at that end was not perfect. After winning the series against Portland with their defense, they were expected to do more on that end of the floor, but every defensive scheme they threw was overpowered by the Warriors system. For Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, it was a good playoff run. Pelicans look like one superstar free agent away from a championship contender. They really felt the absence of DeMarcus Cousins in this series. For the Warriors, the surge for another championship continues for them. They will be against the Houston Rockets which would be their first ultimate test these playoffs.
● Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz
Houston Rockets took this series in 5 as expected. They overpowered the Jazz by their offense and Jazz were just not able to keep up. But this series saw the rise of a young star, Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell coming into the playoffs as a rookie had a lot of onus in his shoulders. He became the leader of this team at such a young age and had some praiseworthy performances. This series was no different. He fought and put up 20 points per game. He did get support from his teammates, but it wasn’t enough. Houston led by Chris Paul and James Harden completely outplayed them as they advance to face the defending champions Golden State Warriors. Houston has been waiting for this opportunity to play the Warriors since they assembled this team, now the time will tell if they have enough fire power to take down the champions.