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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Adams: Cavs, Warriors advance to Finals after close conference matchups

Adams: Cavs, Warriors advance to Finals after close conference matchups

If you’ve been watching the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs and didn’t jump out of your seat or drop your jaw at least once, you don’t appreciate good basketball.

Between Steph Curry hitting seemingly impossible shots and an epic meltdown of the Los Angeles Clippers were a number of other highlight plays that have captured the magic that is the playoffs. I mean, how many buzzer beaters did we see within a two-night span a couple of weekends ago? No, seriously. Does anyone know?

It’s safe to say that these playoffs have been among the more exciting ones to watch in recent memory, but in the end, after a number of scares from underdog teams, the top squads in each conference advanced to their respective conference finals.

Now that we’ve made it to this point, the question becomes who will come out victorious and square off for the Larry O’Brien trophy in June? I’m glad you asked.

Eastern Conference – Hawks vs. Cavs

These teams could not have been more opposite heading into the season. Atlanta hardly got into the playoffs last year in the Eastern Conference, generally known as the weaker of the two, while Cleveland dropped some major money to bring in LeBron James and Kevin Love to join Kyrie Irving in forming a superteam, of sorts.

The Cavs were supposed to romp through the fragile Eastern Conference on their way to a Finals berth, where they would meet a worthy opponent and duke it out for league supremacy. Instead, Cleveland struggled to find chemistry early on, but eventually was able to turn the corner and carry some momentum into the playoffs.

Well, here we are, and the Cavs are the No. 2 seed behind the No. 1 Hawks, yet Atlanta feels like the underdog — and it should. Now, I’m not a LeBron homer, and I’m definitely not a Cleveland fan (who is?), but these Hawks, who claimed the top spot in the East with a 60-22 record, will have to play the best basketball of their season if they want to upend the Cavaliers.

The Hawks are absolutely legitimate, and deserve to be in the conversation of top teams in the NBA. They proved it time after time throughout the season, even beating some of the top Western Conference teams on a number of occasions. But Cleveland is an entirely different animal in that it has LeBron James.

Atlanta is the definition of a team, and actually matches up well against the Cavaliers. The Hawks will show up ready to play, and this series could go down to the wire. But behind the greatest player in the world in James, who is on a mission to get another ring, Cleveland will move on to the Finals in six games.

Western Conference – Warriors vs. Rockets

This is where it gets tough for me.

If you had asked me before the Playoffs, my answer would have definitely been the Warriors, as they had proven to be the best team in the league throughout the season.

However, after watching James Harden (even if he did sit out in the fourth quarter of that epic Game 6 comeback) and company respond to a 3-1 series deficit by winning three straight games and clinching the series over the Clippers, the Rockets have shown they are no afterthought.

And maybe it’s just been me underestimating Houston this entire time, but with a team that boasts James Harden, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith (did I really just say that?), the Rockets are a dangerous team for the Dubs. They can really put the ball in the hoop, and if Houston goes on a roll, it’s pretty hard to stop it — just ask the Clippers.

That said, the Warriors have the personnel and coaching to match any sort of offensive outburst the Rockets may produce. Additionally, first-year head coach Steve Kerr has finally taught this Golden State franchise how to play defense without giving up its offensive identity. Oh, not to mention the Warriors have, you know, the current league MVP, Steph Curry, on their roster.

Throw in his Splash Brother Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, and you’ve got one hell of an offensive, and defensive, team.

Sorry Houston, I like you, and it’ll be fun to watch you go to battle with this other great Western Conference team, but Golden State will advance to the Finals in a thrilling seven-game series for the record books.

So yes, I have the Warriors vs. Cavaliers in my NBA Finals, sue me. They are the two best teams in the league, in my opinion, and so far, the best teams have prevailed in these playoffs.

Why should that stop now?

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