Both NBA Conference Finals series are just two games deep, but we’ve seen enough to give us an idea of how the rest of the playoffs may proceed. Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far and what lays ahead.
After breezing past the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the playoffs, the Boston Celtics haven’t missed a beat in the Eastern Conference Finals, taking a quick 2-0 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. By halftime of Game 1, the Celtics had built a commanding 26-point lead, which allowed them to cruise to a 25-point win behind Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, and Marcus Morris, who all scored 20-plus points.
Of course, things were not that easy in Game 2. LeBron James exploded for 42 points, half of which came in the first quarter, as he attempted to single-handedly keep the Cavs in the series. However, James was forced to the locker room late in the second quarter after taking a shot to the chin from Jayson Tatum. His absence for that brief period helped Boston stay within striking distance at halftime. With more defensive intensity in the second half, the Celtics took control and won by 13 points.
At the moment, the Celtics appear to be in complete control of the series. However, heading back to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 won’t be easy. The outburst from James in Game 2 showed that he won’t go down without a fight, although he will need a little more help from his teammates. At this point, Boston is a safe bet to win the series.
The Western Conference, meanwhile, is tied at one game apiece between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. The Rockets were widely criticized for their isolation style of play in Game 1. Houston was also turnover prone and struggled to get going offensively, causing them to drop the series opener at home.
The Rockets showed few adjustments in their style Wednesday night in Game 2. However, they passed the ball much better, helping them build a 14-point halftime lead that turned into a comfortable 22-point win. It helped that while Houston had five double-digit scorers in Game 2, Golden State had just two, one of which was Steph Curry, who was made just one of his eight three-point attempts. Kevin Durant’s 38 points were not nearly enough to keep the game close.
Despite Houston’s win in Game 2, the Warriors are still favorites to win the series, as they come home for the next two games. However, the Rockets proved in Game 2 that their style can be effective at times, indicating this series could easily go the distance. That being said, the Warriors are still poised to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.