Image courtesy of CBS Sports
By Robbie Cruz
The National Basketball Association is officially in its second round of the playoffs which have been nothing short of incredible.
In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trailblazers in five games, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games, the Denver Nuggets beat the Utah Jazz in seven games, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games.
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Orlando Magic in five games, the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers in four games, the Boston Celtics swept the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets in four games.
In the Western Conference semi-finals the Lakers are facing off against the Rockets, and the Clippers are going against the Nuggets. In the Eastern Conference, the Heat are facing the Bucks, while the Celtics are facing the Raptors.
Junior media and communication studies major Nicholas Berrios says that his favorite team, the Los Angeles Clippers, will undoubtedly win the NBA championship this year.
“Perhaps there is a little bias with my Clippers pick,” Berrios said. “The Clippers have more depth than anybody else. They have the sixth man of the year in Montrezl Harrell and the former 3-time winner in Lou Williams. The Clippers bench can be just as dangerous as some teams starters.”
The Clippers led the NBA in bench points per game this past season, with an average of 51.5 points per game. They also have two superstars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George; however, in spite of his regular-season success, George has not performed well in the playoffs.
In the playoffs, George is averaging 19 points per game, alongside seven rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. However, George is only shooting 37% from the field, and against the Mavericks he only shot 35% from the field and only 27.5% from the three-point range. Berrios thinks that Paul George can be an x-factor and determine how the Clippers end up performing.
“The play of Paul George will be key if the Clippers want to win a chip. If he plays how he did last year as a top-three MVP candidate and gets into a rhythm, there is no stopping this team. However, he cannot perform the same way he did games two through four against the Mavericks.” In games two through four against the Mavericks, George shot 21% from the field and only 16% from three-point range. In that three-game stretch, the Clippers were 1-2.
Another popular pick to win the NBA Championship is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and they had the best record in the Western Conference at 52-19. The Lakers beat the TrailBlazers in the first round, however, they now face a much different, and much better, team in the Houston Rockets.
On February 6, the Houston Rockets traded their starting Center, Clint Capela, to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team deal that sent Robert Covington to the Rockets. Since acquiring Covington, the Rockets have developed a much smaller and faster-paced offense. This is much different than the Lakers, who have relied on their big men throughout this season; however, their big men are not as quick and athletic as the Rockets’ frontcourt.
In the Eastern Conference, the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks have been seen as a favorite to win the East. However, the Miami Heat have been well-rested and are coming off of a sweep against the Indiana Pacers who were 6-2 in their last eight games. The Milwaukee Bucks have the best team Defensive Efficiency, and like the Lakers, rely on length and athleticism in their games.
We are halfway done through the NBA playoffs so far, and although there is more to come, later on, one can only hope that what is to come is as exciting as what has happened so far.