The NBA Finals have already been incredibly exciting to watch and should only get better as the rounds continue. We have some seriously impressive starpower in these playoffs with guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker, and Kawhi Leonard. There have already been some great surprises like the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and Lebron James having an early first-round exit and the Dallas Mavericks pushing the LA Clippers to seven games in round one. Now we are onto the conference semifinals where four teams are left in each and there are two series to be played to determine the conference finals. Let’s break down the Western conference semifinals.
Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are having a tough time catching a break so far in this postseason, but it could pay off for them in the long run. As a two seed, they had to open against the Los Angeles Lakers, in a series they were predicted to lose. Now, in the second round they are having to take on the Denver Nuggets who were the three-seed in the West and probably would have been higher had it not been for the injury to Jamal Murray.
Nikola Jokic is the biggest weapon that Denver has, and he is my personal MVP favorite for the season. The big man is going to create headaches downlow for Deandre Ayton and he will be able to score at will. Denver won two of the three games against Phoenix during the regular season, with the most recent coming back in January when they notched an eight-point win on the road.
The Suns are watching Devin Booker emerge as a superstar right before their eyes and the addition of Chris Paul has done wonders for this Phoenix team. Monty Williams should be the coach of the year, but this series is his tallest task yet. My prediction is Suns in seven games.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz
I really thought the Clippers were dead in these playoffs but here they are still standing and making it onto the semifinals. The Mavs had them down 2-0 and heading back to Dallas before LA stole two games on the Mavs home court and then came back from down 3-2 and won the final two games of the series to advance and play the Jazz.
Utah had a slight scare in Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies when they dropped the ball but quickly rebounded and dominated the rest of the way. The duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Goebert are lethal in Utah, and they were the number one team in the West for a reason. They went 2-1 against the Clippers during the regular season and I don’t like LA’s odds one bit if they don’t at least steal a game in Salt Lake to start the series.
Leonard is a playoff god, but he will need all the help in the world to get this one done. Paul George played well in round one, but the Clippers need even more from him, and they must address some serious defensive issues. My prediction is Jazz in five in this NBA playoffs 2021 bracket.