The NBA schedule provides a couple treats tonight: game one of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, and game seven of what’s turned into an epic series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets.
The Heat and Celtics are evenly matched. They each have exploitable weaknesses and serious strengths, and their coaches are two of the best. I’m leaning towards the Heat winning in six or seven because they’ve been much better since shifting Bam Adebayo to center and because they have two All-NBA level performers (Adebayo and Jimmy Butler). Jayson Tatum is an All-NBA level player and Kemba Walker is close, but in my analysis the Adebayo-Butler combo has been better this season.
The headline event is a surprise. For the first four games, Denver vs. Los Angeles felt like the Clippers were the better team methodically taking care of business. They sprinted out to a 16-point lead in game five, and then blew the lead and lost.
Game six felt like a classic do-over opportunity. Having experienced losing focus and bumbling away a big lead, it seemed like the Clippers would recommit themselves and stomp on the Nuggets to close out the series. Instead, they pulled a Groundhog Day by gacking away another lead.
The Nuggets, a team that seemed to have quit at halftime of game five, have clawed their way back into this series and have a chance to complete a 3-1 comeback and get a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
- Game 1 — Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics — 6:30 p.m. ESPN
- Game 7 — Denver Nuggets (3-3) vs. Los Angeles Clippers — 9:00 p.m. ESPN