sports & entertainment
The NBA Conference Finals, According to Local Sportswriters
May 13, 2018 at 10:51 PM
Photo by tookapic

Food For Thought

What storylines are unique to the Cleveland, Boston, Houston and San Francisco teams? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each team?

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Why It's Relevant

The NBA's Eastern and Western Conference Finals kicked off on Sunday, May 13th. The Eastern Conference matchup pits the Boston Celtics (55-27) against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32). The Western Conference matchup features the Houston Rockets (65-17) and the Golden State Warriors (58-24).

Each team has its own unique story: the Golden State Warriors are seeking their third NBA title in four years. The Houston Rockets had the best regular season in the league and want to prove themselves in the postseason. Lebron James is looking to add to his legacy by making his 8th straight NBA finals. The Boston Celtics are trying to win behind a great coach and a great supporting cast after losing two of their star players.

We thought it would be fun to show you what local sports columnists wrote about their respective teams. Enjoy!

Food For Thought

What storylines are unique to the Cleveland, Boston, Houston and San Francisco teams? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each team?

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San Francisco Chronicle

The Warriors, looking beyond the moment to the greatness that awaits

Scott Ostler
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Our Commentary

This opinion from Scott Ostler, a sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, uses these types of arguments to explain how the Golden State Warriors could become a legendary team:

  • The Golden State Warriors need to stay focused on their current matchup against the Houston Rockets, but sportswriters and fans have the luxury of being able to step back and look at the big picture: "The Warriors are on the brink of history."
  • Right now, the Warriors have two titles in three years and three trips to the finals. While exciting, they need at least one more title if they want to be considered among the all-time greats, like the "early-NBA Minneapolis Lakers, the Bill Russell Celtics, the Showtime Lakers, the Steve Kerr and Michael Jordan Bulls and the Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan Spurs."
  • Four years ago, Kevin Durant was already a star, but Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodola and Draymond Green were not established legends. With another title, all five should be favorites for the Hall-of-Fame.

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Houston Chronicle

Rockets look forward to showdown they wanted

Jonathan Feigen
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Our Commentary

This commentary from Jonathan Feigen, a beat writer with the Houston Chronicle, uses these types of arguments to explain why the Rockets are so excited to take on the Warriors:

  • The Houston Rockets really wanted this playoff matchup against the Golden State Warriors. Knocking out the defending NBA champions has been Houston's goal all season long.
  • The Rockets deliberately rebuilt their team to take on Golden State. They improved their defense to better protect against three-pointers and they added a second play-maker in Chris Paul.
  • Houston had the best regular season record in the NBA, with 65 wins, but they know that ultimately, playoffs matter most. The Golden State Warriors are proven playoff winners, but the Houston Rockets are hungry, making for an exciting matchup!

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Cleveland.com

LeBron James has been beating the Celtics and chasing Boston's ghosts for years

Our Commentary

This commentary from Cleveland sportswriter Joe Vardon discusses Lebron James' stellar history against the Celtics and speculates that Lebron will add to his great legacy. Here are some of the types of points made:

  • Lebron James will be in his 8th consecutive NBA finals if he beats the Celtics this year. The record for consecutive NBA final appearances is 9 and is held by Boston Celtics legends, Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, and Frank Ramsey.
  • In interviews, Lebron makes it clear that he does not see view himself as a "one-man army." However, he does seem to be on a mission to add to his legacy so that he can be "as great as he can be."
  • Lebron has a history of beating up on the Boston Celtics. Over the course of his career, Lebron has scored 979 points in playoff games against Boston, so it makes sense to expect a big series from him again.

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The Boston Globe

These Celtics have rewritten the laws of title contention in the NBA

Christopher L. Gasper
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Our Commentary

This commentary from Christopher L. Gasper in the Boston Globe uses these types of points to build an optimistic case for the Boston Celtics:

  • The Celtics "have brought the unfazed player-replacement philosophy of the Patriots to the NBA." They are thriving, despite losing their two stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
  • The Celtics' success is even more remarkable because the NBA is the most star-dependent of all of the major American sports leagues. The Celtics have succeeded because of their excellent coach, Brad Stevens, and their strong supporting cast.
  • The Cavaliers have been the kings of the Eastern Conference for a while now, but this season has demonstrated that the Celtics aren't far from overtaking Lebron. Celtics' injuries have enabled younger players like Tatum and Brown to emerge as stars and the future of the team looks bright.

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Western Conference
Eastern Conference