Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets vs. 4) Utah Jazz

The Jazz might be “en fuego” in recent outings, but the Rockets have been leaving a trail of scorched earth throughout the entire 2017-18 campaign.

Impressive as the second-half run in Salt Lake City may be, the Rockets are now 41-4 when both Chris Paul and James Harden set foot on the hardwood. With the two guards together, PBPStats.com shows they’re torching their adversaries to the tune of a 13.7 net rating. That’s before we factor in the ever-growing excellence of Clint Capela, the three-and-D prowess of Trevor Ariza and the usefulness of an improved bench.

Houston is a wholly complete team, capable of emerging victoriously even when its best players are experiencing off nights.

Could the Rudy Gobert-led defense potentially slow down the Rockets’ historic offensive machine? “Potentially” is the operative word, but it’s a legitimate possibility. Even if they do, they’ll nfl need to generate points against a unit ranked No. 7 in defensive rating. Houston isn’t a one-way juggernaut.

Donovan Mitchell has served as an impressive scorer all year, but the Jazz don’t have the attacking pieces necessary to keep up with even a tempered version of Houston’s high-powered assault.

Prediction: Houston in five

2) Golden State Warriors vs. 3) nfl store Portland Trail Blazershi-res-d74483f3711beda0af4fb8baf226a796_crop_exact

Let’s assume Stephen Curry is healthy by the time the Warriors are ready to take on the Trail Blazers in the second round. Majority owner Joe Lacob is already “hopeful” the star point guard can return by the end of the first, but he noted the Dubs will be conservative with his timetable because of his importance to the franchise, per 95.7 The Game.
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If that’s the case, the Blazers are in trouble.

Golden State hasn’t had the same air of invincibility this year, sleepwalking through more contests and often refusing to exert the necessary effort on the defensive end. But we know what this squad can do when it emerges from its somnambulatory state in full working order, and it’s already outscoring opponents by a dozen points per 100 possessions when Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant are all on the floor, per PBPStats.com.

Damian Lillard is a deserving secondary MVP candidate this year and should be able to steal a game from the No. 2 seed. But Golden State boasts significantly more talent from top to bottom,nfl nike  especially when it’s motivated to defend its title and isn’t staving off boredom during an uninspired regular season.nfl hats

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Toronto Raptors vs. 4) Cleveland Cavaliers

This is the matchup we’re all anticipating, authentic wholesale nfl jerseys even it comes a round before the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavaliers still aren’t fully healthy. We’re waiting to see what they can do with Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman and everyone else ready to go. Head coach Tyronn Lue is a question mark as well. But even at full strength, this team probably won’t be as good as the Raptors.2cfd31c2690fffe88711ca4946cea2e6_crop_exact

If that seems like a hot take, you need to pay more attention to what Toronto has done. The Canadian franchise has the league’s No. 3 net rating this season (8.0), and it’s almost double the mark of the fourth-place Celtics (4.1). Basketball Reference’s simple rating system, which is based solely on margin of victory and strength of schedule, nfl nike jerseys from china bumps the Raptors up to No. 2, behind only the Rockets. The numbers all check out, and they also pass the vaunted eye test.nfl wholesale jerseys authentic

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are legitimate All-Stars who should be able to put their past playoff experiences behind them. This team shares the ball more than ever, no longer relying on isolation sets to generate offense—isolation frequency is down from 8.5 percent in 2016-17 (No. 6) to 5.7 percent this year (No. 22). It trusts every member of the roster, and it’s the rare squad that should be able to continue using deadly bench lineups during a time of year in which rotations are supposed to contract.

Stopping LeBron James will be tough, and Toronto will be forced to throw OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam into where can i find nfl jerseys the fire. But Cleveland and its No. 28 defense (No. 21 since the start of March) will have even more trouble slowing down the league’s No. 3 offense, which can attack in a wide variety of manners as offense comes from everywhere within the half-court set.

Prediction: Toronto in six

2) Boston Celtics vs. 3) Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers, unbelievable as this may sound, are ready.

Their brand of tough-nosed, switch-happy defense is exactly the style of basketball that gets glorified during the playoff experience. They have a legitimate go-to scorer in Joel Embiid who can get buckets in myriad manners. Ben Simmons has arrived as a bona fide star, currently sitting at No. 15 in NBA Math’s total points added and No. cheap china jerseys nfl 20 in ESPN.com’s RPM Wins. Perhaps most importantly, they feature one of the league’s most imposing quintets.

This prediction doesn’t require Markelle Fultz to build upon Monday night’s encouraging re-debut against the Nuggets. Nor does it rely on some role player such as T.J. McConnell or Richaun Holmes to have an out-of-body experience.

Philly’s five-man unit comprised of Simmons, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Embiid is one of just eight groups to log over 500 minutes together, and it’s blowing the rest out of the water. original nike nfl jerseys Outscoring opponents by a whopping 21.1 points per 100 possessions, it’s nearly seven points ahead of the next-best candidate over that same average stretch. In fact, only three of the 43 lineups with at least 200 minutes have topped their efficacy, and none belong to the C’s.

If Boston somehow gets fully healthy, this could go either way. But the Celtics haven’t demonstrated the consistent scoring prowess necessary to get by this stifling Philadelphia defense, and shrinking rotations will only help Brett Brown’s troops feature more offensive firepower. Plus, Embiid won’t have to worry about any back-to-backs during the playoffs.