PCI: The Portland Trail Blazers Will Win the NBA Finals
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.
PCI: The Philadelphia 76ers Will Win the NBA Finals
By Ethan Ticehurst ’18
This is the year that “the process” is finally going to pay off.
With the third seed in the East nearly locked up, it is easy to see that the 76ers have definitely had a successful regular season. Their season has become all the more impressive when looking at the standings from last season, when Philadelphia finished second to last in the Eastern Conference. Improving from their 28-54 season last year, to winning more than 50 games this year for the first time in nearly 20 years should be enough to convince anyone that the rebuild seems to be complete in Philly.
The path to the NBA Finals for the 76ers is far from daunting. The Raptors and the Celtics, the top two teams in the conference, have had pretty good regular seasons but will not present much of a challenge. The Raptors have had a tough time in the playoffs in recent years, losing some series that they probably should have won. The Celtics, who have had a good season and looked strong for most the year, have been riddled with injuries in the last month of the season and are now without their star player, Kyrie Irving.
The only real challenge that seems to remain in the East is the Cavaliers, who simply continue to remain a threat thanks to LeBron James. However, the 76ers have managed to split the season series with the Cavaliers, showing that they are evenly matched. If they can match up with LeBron well, they can manage to win. This is all assuming that the Cavaliers do not get knocked out in an earlier round.
Once the finals come around, the 76ers would have to face their toughest challenge yet. Whichever team comes out of the West, they will be challenging and fresh off winning what is shaping up to be a dogfight in the earlier rounds. The assumption is that the West’s representative in the finals will most likely be the Houston Rockets, given their strong regular season, the assumed MVP James Harden, and the injury problems that currently face the Golden State Warriors. A matchup between the 76ers and the Rockets would be very entertaining finals, as they split the season series in two very close games. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and the Phildelphia 76ers will be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in the end.