Who will win the NBA Finals?

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Who will win the NBA Finals?

by Will Casey, Staff Writer

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The 2019 NBA playoffs have some of the most memorable moments in NBA history: Damian Lillard’s deep three over Paul George to beat the Thunder and Kawhi Leonard’s corner fade over Joel Embiid to help the Raptors beat the 76ers in game seven. The Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers are left fighting until one champion is crowned.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks entered playoffs as the number one seed in the East with a league-best record 60-22. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have been a force in these playoffs, beating the Detroit Pistons in four games and the Boston Celtics in five games. Antetokounmpo has been having a historic season. He has a chance to join Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Antetokounmpo has averaged nearly 28 points, 12 rebounds on almost 60% shooting from the field. General manager Jon Horst and head coach Mike Budenholzer have helped Antetokounmpo by surrounding him with 3-point shooters and defensive players like Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon. All of these players have helped the Bucks become the best defense, fourth-best offense and best rebounding team in the NBA. While these players have shown that they can be tremendous role players next to Antetokounmpo, none of them have been able to take over a game if Antetokounmpo is struggling. In game one in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Celtics game plan was the focus their defense on Antetokounmpo and let one of the other four players on the court beat them. No one stepped up leading to the loss. If the Bucks face a team that is able to control Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will need someone else to step up or they could be sent home.

Toronto Raptors

After Kawhi Leonard’s nearly impossible game winner, the Raptors are moving on to the conference finals to play the Bucks. The Raptors went 58-24, securing the second seed in the East. Kawhi Leonard has been carrying the Raptors in these playoffs, averaging 32 points and 9 rebounds on 52% from the field. In game seven against the 76ers, Leonard scored 41 points. The Raptors had the fifth best offense and defense this season. If Kawhi Leonard struggles in a game, no player has shown that they can step up and score when they need it. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam passed up open shots to get the ball to Leonard due to their playoff shooting slumps. If Leonard’s supporting cast can step up the Raptors can beat anyone in their path to the championship.

Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors have won three of the last four championships and won 57 games to win the Western Conference. The Warriors beat the Clippers and Rockets in six games. In the fourth quarter the Warriors lost Kevin Durant to a calf strain that could leave him out until the NBA Finals. In his absence, two-time MVP Steph Curry has been averaging 35 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Warriors had the best offense in the NBA this year and the thirteenth best defense. Golden State’s biggest flaw has neem their inconsistency in the playoffs. In the Rockets series, Curry had a three point percentage of only 27%. The Warriors will probably lose if Curry or some of the Warriors stars get into another shooting slump.

After beating the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference finals, I believe that the Warriors will go on to winning their third straight championship. The sweep can give the Warriors injured players time to recover from their injuries. I also think that the Bucks will beat the Raptors in six games. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast will be too much for the Raptors to defend leading to their elimination. In the Finals the Warriors starpower and experience will overpower the inexperienced Bucks, ending in Steph Curry lifting the Finals MVP award after five games.