By Sullivan Burgess ’20
While the NBA’s Western Conference used to be dominated by teams such as the Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors, this season has shown that any of the eight teams from the est have an equal chance to win the NBA Finals. However, this year’s champions of the 2018 NBA Finals should be the Portland Trail Blazers.
Currently sitting third in the western conference with one game left, behind the Rockets and the Warriors, Portland looks to be the underdog in a conference full of All-Stars. While the Rockets have the best record in the NBA, stars Chris Paul and James Harden do not have the track record to finish a series in their favor, and will most likely lose in the Western Conference Finals in six games.
The Warriors will most likely not be able to get far into the playoffs, despite Kevin Durant playing outstanding basketball this season. They have no option in the guard area as Stephen Curry is still battling his MCL injury.
Point guard Damian Lillard and the rest of his team have the mindset to take over this year’s playoffs and prove they are championship team this season. Lillard has shaped himself into one of the best point guards in the NBA, averaging 26.8 points per game, 6.5 assists per game, and 4.5 rebounds, proving himself to be a top candidate for this year’s league MVP.
Lillard, in past experience, has had the ability to take over games in crunch time, and show up to be the closer to any opponent that stands in his way. Alongside Lillard is shooting guard CJ McCollum, who is averaging 21.4 points per game, elavating this duo to one of the best backcourt tandems in the NBA.
McCollum has the strength to throw off his defenders, making him one of the hardest players to guard, and the power to consistently make shots.
On the defensive end, Jusuf Nurkic stands out as one of the top 10 centers of the Western Conference as he averages nine rebounds per game. The bench has also come together to play good overall basketball as they prove to be reliable scoring options and defensive efforts to stop any team.
The Trail Blazers have shown throughout the season their ability to turn heads to prove them as the front runners of the west. The Portland Trail Blazers will go onto win the championship and bring the franchise’s second title in history.