One 2017 NBA Conference Final is in the books while another will likely end this week. The San Antonio Spurs had no shot against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals once their best player, Kawhi Leonard, went down with an injury.
The Warriors swept the Spurs in 4 games. Boston’s best player, point-guard Isaiah Thomas, also went down with injury. But, somehow, Boston came up huge in Game 3. They upset the heavily favored Cavaliers to cut Cleveland’s lead to 2 games to 1.
2017 NBA Conference Final Playoffs Recap
Let’s recap each game in both the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and the NBA Western Conference Finals!
2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals
** Records and stats as of May 22
1 Boston Celtics vs 2 Cleveland Cavaliers
Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers 117 at Boston Celtics 104
LeBron James was his quintessential self in the Cavaliers 117 to 104 win over Boston in Game 1. LeBron scored 38 points. He dished 7 assists and he grabbed 9 boards. What was truly impressive about LeBron’s performance is that the Celtics knew exactly what he was going to do.
But, LeBron couldn’t have done it alone. Kevin Love was fantastic when making 6 out of 9 three-point shots on his way to 32 points. With Love and James dominating, the Celtics had nothing. It was one of the easier picks during the series against the spread as Boston, who had to work hard versus Washington to get out of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, as only a +4.5-road dog.
The well-rested Cavs were exceptional while the Celtics played tired.
Game 2: Cleveland Cavaliers 130 at Boston Celtics 86
The Cavaliers showed up as -5 road favorites in Game 2. Boston was supposed to bounce back with a sterling effort. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Cavaliers took a 41-point lead into halftime. No kidding. At halftime, LeBron and his mates were up 72 to 31.
It wasn’t until after the game that Celtics coach Brad Stevens explained what had happened to Isaiah Thomas. Thomas had aggravated a hip injury “pretty significantly” in Game 7 versus Washington.
Thomas not only had been hampered by it in Game 2, but he had also been hampered by it in Game 1. The Celtics had no answer for the Cavaliers in Game 2 with a hobbling Thomas. To make matters worse for Boston, Thomas didn’t play a single minute in the second half. Since Boston’s entire game plan revolved around Isaiah, things didn’t get much better for the Celtics in the second half of Game 2.
Boston ended up losing by 44 points. After Game 2, the Cavs certainly looked like they were destined to sweep the Celtics.
Game 3: Boston Celtics 111 at Cleveland Cavaliers 108
Wow. I start out my write-up of Game 3 in the Boston Celtics versus Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Eastern Finals with only a “wow”. That’s because somehow, someway, the Celtics managed to upset the Cleveland Cavaliers straight up in Game 3. What’s amazing is that the Cavs were a north of 15-point home favorite to demolish Boston.
What’s even more amazing is that Boston was down by 21 points in Game 3, in the third quarter, at Quicken Loans Arena. How did Boston climb back from such a crazy deficit to burn the Cavs?
Marcus Smart, playing in place of the injured Isaiah Thomas, was phenomenal. Smart scored an impressive 27 points. He dished 7 assists. He grabbed 5 boards. He also had 2 steals and a block.
Avery Bradley scored 20 points. He also hit the game winning three-point shot. The shot left Bradley’s hand with 2.8 seconds remaining. It bounced around and didn’t fall until there was only .1 second left on the clock.
Cleveland had no shot of tying the game. The story in Game 3? In addition to the Cavaliers committing 19 turnovers, LeBron only scored 11 points. He had 6 assists and 5 boards. He played 45 minutes.
2017 NBA Western Conference Finals
** Records and stats as of May 22
1 Golden State Warriors vs 2 San Antonio Spurs
Game 1: Golden State Warriors 113 vs San Antonio Spurs 111
Game 1 turned out to be the key battle in the NBA Western Conference Finals. If San Antonio had held on to beat Golden State in Game 1, they may have turned it into a series. At one moment in Game 1, San Antonio held a 23-point lead over the heavily favored Warriors.
What happened? Zaza Pachulia stepped on Kawhi’s ankle. It turned out to be the moment that changed the entire course of the series. Up to the point Zaza burned Kawhi with a move that appeared to me to be a dirty play, Leonard had scored 26 points, dished 3 assists, and grabbed 8 boards.
Kawhi had even come up with a steal. He had played less than 24 minutes. Once Leonard left the game, the Spurs morale went south. Golden State stormed back for the Game 1 win.
Game 2: Golden State Warriors 136 vs San Antonio Spurs 100
Most everyone knew that the Spurs had no shot of tying the series in Game 2. Without Kawhi Leonard, one of 3 finalists for this season’s NBA MVP, San Antonio couldn’t possibly stick with the Warriors.
Although most everyone knew that, Golden State was a paltry -13.5-point home favorite. They could have covered that with their eyes closed in this game. San Antonio had nothing. It was as if the loss of Kawhi Leonard had sent San Antonio into a tailspin.
Jonathan Simmons, who had been exceptional versus Houston in Game 6 with Leonard out, played about as well as he could have. Simmons dropped 22 points in a bit over 25 minutes. But, nobody else, not LaMarcus Aldridge, not Patty Mills, not Danny Green, did anything.
Aldridge only scored 8 points. After Game 2, most NBA fans knew the mighty Warriors had an excellent shot of sweeping San Antonio.
Game 3: Golden State Warriors 120 at San Antonio Spurs 108
Golden State started JaVale McGee at center in Game 3. McGee scored a terrific 16 points in less than 13 minutes. That was close to incredible.
All 5 Golden State Warrior starters scored in double-figures. Klay Thompson scored 17. Seth Curry dropped 21. Draymond Green scored 10. Kevin Durant, the Warriors prized acquisition this off-season, dominated. KD dropped 33 onto the Leonard-less Spurs. He dominated the Spurs on both sides of the ball.
For the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge played better, but he wasn’t nearly the player that he needed to be. Aldridge scored 18 while only taking down 5 boards. He dished a single assist. He did block 2 shots. But, Pau Gasol outplayed Aldridge.
Game 4: Golden State Warriors 129 at San Antonio Spurs 115
What makes the Warriors so difficult to deal with is their deep bench. Golden State started Patrick McCaw at a forward spot in Game 4. They started Draymond Green at center. What happened?
Green responded with 18 points, 8 assists, 8 boards, and 2 steals. He held LaMarcus Aldridge, who started at center for the San Antonio Spurs, to 8 points. Aldridge was good for 7 points and 3 assists.
Green also opened things up for both Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Durant was 10 out of 13 from the field and 2 out of 4 from 3. He ended up with 12 boards and 29 points. Steph was phenomenal in this game. He scored 36 points when hitting on 14 of 24 from the field and 5 of 13 from three.
The Warriors are undefeated in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Since the NBA Championship Series doesn’t start until June 1, Golden State has plenty of time to rest up for either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics.
On June 1, neither the Cavs nor the Celtics are going to be happy to see this Golden State Warriors squad!