By Keegan Poulton
How can you describe the Eastern Conference Finals? For fans of the game, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions. With the Miami Heat emphatically going up 3-0 in the series, I don’t think many expected the Celtics to come charging back. What was valiant came to a close in front of their home crowd in Boston. Miami is a team that lost their first game in the play-in tournament to the Atlanta Hawks, to now fighting in a 7-game series for an NBA Championship; I think it is fair to say that nobody saw this coming. #HeatCulture
Check out Miami’s Road to the NBA Finals…
Play-in Tournament: (1-1) Loss to Atlanta Hawks and Victory over Chicago Bulls to Secure the #8 Seed
Playoffs First Round: (4-1) Series Victory over the #1 Seed Milwaukee Bucks
Conference Semifinals: (4-2) Series Victory over the #5 Seed NewYork Knicks
Conference Finals: (4-3) Series Victory over the #2 Seed Boston Celtics
NBA Finals: (TBD) vs. The #1 Seed Denver Nuggets
Role Players Stepping Up:
Jimmy has been doing his thing, but it has been the role players that have really been showing out for the Heat. The emergence of Caleb Martin continues! Not only is he showing flashes of athleticism, but he is shooting the ball with excellent efficiency. From being undrafted to impacting the Finals-bound Heat, Caleb has been one of the most consistent threats throughout the playoffs. Not only did he lead his team in minutes in Game 7, but his active, hands-on defence and confident finishing on the offensive end helped secure a finals berth for this team.
Now someone that has been putting the ball on the floor and making his contract definitely look worth it is Duncan Robinson. Mostly known for his shooting ability, Duncan has shown that he has much more in the bag than just that three-point jumper. What has truly impressed me is how he has been able to get to the basket, whether by putting the ball on the floor or losing defenders on backdoor cuts.
Another player that has caught my eye is Gabe Vincent. A point guard in his contract year with the Miami Heat that has clearly cemented his role over veteran and NBA champion Kyle Lowry. Not only has Gabe shown a propensity to handle the ball up the court and shoot effectively, but his playmaking ability has also taken significant pressure off of Jimmy Butler.
On the Celtics, I am going to shout Derek White. We are all familiar with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum’s prowess on the basketball court, but someone that has emerged when the lights shone brightest was Derek White. Not only did he score the game-winning put-back in game 6, but he has consistently stepped up when his team has needed him most.
Lakers vs Nuggets:
The Western Conference finals saw a rough end to the Los Angeles Laker's season, which had Lebron James considering retirement as the Lakers got swept. Losing every game by relatively short margins and the fact that a 38-year-old Lebron dropped 40 points in their final game will be a tough pill to swallow for the Lakers fanbase. The Jokic and Murray duo are dangerous and poised to be a matchup nightmare in the next round. Is this the year the Nuggets win their first championship?
It will be interesting to see what happens in the Finals of these NBA playoffs , with the Heat going through another long gruelling series and the Nuggets having ample rest. Does Miami have enough firepower and enough gas left in the tank to compete with a Denver team that has dominated their competition? Who will end up with the NBA Title? We’ll have to wait and see!
My Prediction: 4-1 Series Final
Future NBA Champs: The Denver Nuggets