We’re down to the final four, as we reach the NBA Conference Finals. Mark Ross looks ahead to what could be two thrilling series on the road to the biggest prize in basketball.
Well, here we are. It’s the Conference Finals or the semi-finals of the NBA Season. Four teams remain fighting it out for the famous trophy and the opportunity to call themselves NBA Champions. The Miami Heat were the first team to book their spot in the Eastern Conference Finals as they saw off the challenge of the Philadelphia 76ers. Golden State followed quickly in the Western Conference, as they finally put an end to the hopes of the Memphis Grizzlies after a 4-2 series win.
For the first time since 2019, the Golden State Warriors are headed back to the Western Conference Finals after coming through a closely fought contest with the Grizzlies. Memphis had to deal with losing star player Ja Morant to injury and couldn’t keep up in Game 6. Golden State showed their experience in the final five minutes as they went on a scoring spree to secure a 110-96 victory. Golden State was led by the Splash Brothers as both Steph Curry and Klay Thomson set the court alight from behind the arc.
Klay Thomson poured them in from a distance as he started five for five from distance. He finished with 30 points in the contest. After recovering from his injury he has played a huge part in the Warriors Championship run. The Warriors are currently at 23/20 to score over 111.5 points in Game 1, if Thomson can continue his scoring run this should be getable for Golden State.
Golden State got the victory against Memphis, but they did their best to throw it away. They finished the game with 17 turnovers, most of which were careless mistakes from their Championship-winning three-point king. Golden State was going for the knockout blow on almost every possession before they got their act together late in the fourth.
Golden State are the favourite to win the Western Conference and you can get them on 11/8.
Miami punched its ticket to the Eastern Conference Championships for the second time in three years. It was the former 76er who haunted and eventually ruined their Championship chances. Jimmy Butler scored 33 points in Game 3, 40 in Game 4, and in Game 6 he took a total of 29 shots. It ended with Butler advancing, sending his former team home. Star big man, Joel Embiid said after the game:
“I still don’t know how we let him go.”
Me neither Joel. Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are at 11/10 to win the Western Conference. If Butler can keep up at the pace he is on, the Heat could find themselves playing for yet another NBA Championship. To win the entire thing outright they are currently at 4/1. Definitely worth a punt.
As for the opponents in the East, the Boston Celtics came through their previous round after going the distance with the Milwaukee Bucks. After trailing 3-1 the Celtics looked dead and buried against the reigning champions. The Celtics cruised to a 109-81 rout on the back of 27 points from Grant Williams. Boston has won a joint-record of 17 NBA titles and is currently at 2/1 to win the Championship outright.
Just like in the previous Game 7, this one was a rout. This time it was the lower seed that advanced. Luka Doncic, who matched the Phoenix Suns’ scoring in the first half, finished the game with35 points and 10 rebounds as he saw off his rival Devon Booker outstandingly.
“I don’t know what to say but this was an amazing team win,” said Slovenia’s Doncic.
Doncic will have to be on top form to topple one of the great NBA franchises over the last decade. Dallas is the rank outsiders at 6/1 to win the whole Championship and 17/10 to beat the Warriors. Golden State however is 4/9 to beat Dallas. It’s clear that Golden State is the favourite left in the competition but Doncic has taken down the best team throughout the regular season so who is to say he can’t do it again.
If Golden State continues with the turnovers that they have committed over the last few games then it should be a high-scoring game. You can get it 10/11 odds for there to be more than 214.5 points. With Curry and Thomson draining threes, and Doncic and company trying to keep up, there is no reason this won’t be a high-scoring affair.
Whatever happens, we are bound to have top-quality basketball for another 14 games…..hopefully.