Article by: Harrison Weaver
Alright, readers, I am writing this article from my vacation on the sandy beaches of Wildwood, New Jersey. My point, these conference semifinals have been like Christmas morning for NBA fans. We have exciting series left and right, and I do not need to explain a whole lot here because the series are speaking for themselves. We have a couple of Game 7’s, and a lot of other drama in these playoffs including the demise of the Boston Celtics. Damian Lillard and the Blazers stepped up to save their tails and force a Game 7, and the Sixers have valiantly fought back after an embarrassing game 5 to force the penultimate game in Toronto.
Sixers vs Raptors Game 7
The 2019 season has been a roller coaster of emotions for Sixers fans. Especially through the playoffs this season. The Sixers have been a perennial Jekyll/Hyde kind of team. Game 1, Philly looked terrible. Games 2 and 3 on the other hand, they looked like a real NBA Finals competitor. They lost Game 4 but put up a good fight and lost because of missed free throws and poor shot-making. Game 5? Game 5 was atrocious for every viewer out there, Simmons and Embiid looked completely disinterested, unmotivated, and even a little bit scared. Game 6, they came out guns blazing, the whole team shot well, they showed aggression and heart, looking a step faster than Toronto the entire game.
Now here we are, Game 7 on Sunday, 7 PM ET in Toronto. The Sixers will be heading up to Jurassic Park, where Kawhi has been dominant, as he has been this entire postseason. Oddsmakers are giving the Raptors a 72% chance to win Game 7 in Toronto. To me, if Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid come out playing physical and hungry, the Sixers will have a chance to get a harness on this game and dictate it from the get-go. When Simmons, Embiid, and Butler are playing on top of their game they can beat anybody. They have shown the ability to run Toronto off the floor, while also showing the same vulnerability to get blown out. That means assertive Ben Simmons (not passive Ben Simmons) needs to take the ball to the hoop with conviction and finish strong, versus shying away from two-foot shots to avoid getting sent to the free-throw line. That also means Embiid needs to impose his will in the paint, bully around Marc Gasol, and use his perimeter pump-fake to drive and either finish at the rim or kick out to Tobias Harris or JJ Redick. That combination has shown to keep Toronto off-balance throughout this series, and I believe it will be the key in Game 7.
My pick: Sixers #PhilaUnite
Blazers vs Nuggets Game 7
What a series this has been. Back and forth, no team has been able to seize control of this series. In the same way the Sixers and Raptors have traded blows, the Nuggets and Blazers find themselves in a Game 7 on Sunday (3:30 PM EST), after each team has displayed their own highs and lows. Nikola Jokic has been incredible, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris have stepped up. Will Barton hit a pair of massive shots in Game 4 to seal a victory. Paul Millsap has been getting buckets at-will, as he is been guarded by Ennis Kanter who simply cannot keep up with a busted shoulder on the defensive end. In my opinion, the Nuggets will win this game because they are deeper, and the Blazers have no answer for Jokic and Millsap, who are both lethal in the paint and on the perimeter.
Playing Game 7 on the road, Dame and CJ McCollum need to have spectacular games if the Blazers are to have a chance in this game. The Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter injuries have left the Blazers dilapidated in the post, although Zach Collins has played well, which has helped. A surprising X-Factor in this series goes by the name of Rodney Hood, who hit some major clutch shots in the 4-OT Game 3. He is given them a lift off the bench and could play a key role in Game 7 if the Blazers are to win. However, the Nuggets just keep looking better and better as the playoffs go on, and I like the way that Jokic, Murray, Millsap, Harris, Barton, and the key bench players have all been getting the job done. With the advantage of the home crowd behind their backs, the Nuggets carry an advantage going into this Game 7.
My Pick: Nuggets
The Celtics, in a season that was supposed to represent the beginning of a dynasty, got annihilated by the Bucks in 4 straight games after winning Game 1. Kyrie Irving looked terrible; the supporting cast did not show up whatsoever. Jayson Tatum looks like a shell of himself from last season’s playoffs. Gordon Hayward failed to put together any consistent performances. Boston is facing an offseason which could really prove to be fatal for them. Kyrie is on his way out. I am telling you that as a guarantee, Kyrie Irving will not be wearing a Celtics uniform next year. Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, and Al Horford (player option) will most likely all be free agents. Aaron Baynes and Daniel Theis could also walk. My point, this season was supposed to be the beginning for Boston. Now, it is starting to look like the end.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the article be sure to drop a like! Also feel free to comment your thoughts and opinions down below.
To get keep getting news and updates on all things sports, be sure to keep it here, with Heated Sports!