NBA Conference Semifinals Week 2 Preview

Already two teams, Golden State in the West and Cleveland in the East, have moved on to the NBA Conference Finals. Golden State beat Utah 4 games to 0. Cleveland beat Toronto 4 games to 0.

2017 NBA Conference Semifinals Week 2

The Warriors await the winner of the Western Conference Semifinal Series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. The series between the Spurs and Rockets has turned into a mano y mano coaches’ strategy throw down between the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and the Rockets’ Mike Dantoni. It’s been amazing to watch.

Cleveland awaits the winner of the Boston versus Washington Series. The Celtics versus Wizards has been a great showcase of never say die players. The stars, Isaiah Thomas with the Celtics and John Wall with the Wizards, aren’t the only players fighting hard for Boston and Washington. Role players are doing the best that they can to get their team to the NBA Conference Finals.

Check out some thoughts on the games that have already been played along with my prediction on where each series goes from here!

2017 NBA Conference Semifinals Week 2 – Eastern Conference
** Records and stats as of May 8

1 Boston Celtics vs 4 Washington Wizards

Game 1: Sunday, April 30
Boston 123 vs Washington 111

Washington had 6 players score in double-figures: Bradley Beal 27, John Wall 20, Otto Porter Jr. 16, Marcin Gortat 16, Kelly Oubre Jr. 12, Bojan Bogdanovic 10. Boston had great balance as well with 5 players scoring in double-figures: Avery Bradley 18, Isaiah Thomas 33, Jae Crowder 24, Al Horford 21, and Kelly Olynyk 12.
Both teams were also great from the field. Washington hit 44 out of 87 for 50.6% Boston hit 46 out of 90 for 51.1%. So, what was the difference? Three-point shooting. The Boston Celtics had much more success from behind the arc than Washington did.

The Wizards weren’t bad from behind the arc. They hit on 10 of 23 shots for over 43%. But, Boston was en fuego from three in Game 1! The Celtics rained threes when hitting 19 of 39. Boston hit on over 48% of their three-points shots.

Game 2: Tuesday, May 2
Boston 129 vs Washington 119 (OT)

Washington made 2 adjustments in Game 2 that sent the battle into overtime. The first adjustment is John Wall taking the game over. Sure, Wall scored 40 points. But, that’s not what’s impressive. What’s impressive is that Wall scored 40 points while dishing 13 assists. Wall was so good at controlling the game that 6 other Washington players scored in double-figures.

The second adjustment was holding Boston to 13 of 36 from three. Boston shot only 36.1% from three in Game 2 after being on fire in Game 1.
Yes, the Wizards lost Game 2. But, the two adjustments were a sign of what was to come.

Game 3: Thursday, May 4
Washington 116 vs Boston 89

The Washington Wizards put everything together in Game 3. 6 players scored in double-figures. John Wall scored 24. Wall also dished 8 assists. Bradley Beal scored 11. Porter scored 19 while grabbing 8 boards, and Markieff Morris scored 10 while grabbing 5 boards. Marcin Gortat was fantastic. Gortat posted a double-double with 16 rebounds and 13 points. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 points and grabbed 10 boards with a double-double.

Game 4: Sunday, May 7
Washington 121 vs Boston 102

Washington once again proved that they’ve got a much more balanced offense than many NBA analysts have given them credit for. John Wall and Bradley Beal did lead the Wizards in scoring. Wall was good for 27 points while he dished 12 assists. Beal scored 29 points.

But, the Wizards other players stepped it up on the offensive end. Morris scored 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds while Porter Jr. scored 18 and grabbed 8 boards. Bogdanovich also scored 13.

The Wizards tied the series at 2 games apiece with Sunday’s win.

Boston vs Washington Remaining Games

Game 5: Wednesday, May 10
Washington at Boston

Game 6: Friday, May 12
Boston at Washington

Game 7: Monday, May 15 **If Necessary
Washington at Boston

Remaining Games Analysis: I think Boston is in trouble. The Celtics haven’t yet made the necessary adjustments while Washington has.

In Game 2, Boston shot 51.1% from the field even though they only shot 36.6% from three. That’s how the Celtics beat the Wizards 129 to 119 in overtime even though John Wall went off. But, in Game 3, Boston was held to 35.1% from the field and 31.2% from three. John Wall didn’t go off. He still controlled the flow of the game.

Game 4 saw the Wizards holding the Celtics to 44.3% from the field and 45.2% from three. The Celtics shot much better in Game 4 than they did in Game 3. The problem is that they suffered on defense. Washington outrebounded Boston 33 to 22.

I think Washington can match up with whatever Boston does while I don’t believe that Boston can match up with whatever Washington does. The Wizards should win the next 2 games.

2017 NBA Conference Semifinals Week 2 – Western Conference
** Records and stats as of May 8

2 San Antonio Spurs vs 3 Houston Rockets

Game 1: Monday, May 1
Houston 126 at San Antonio 99

I’m throwing this game out. The reason is because Houston couldn’t miss from behind the arc in the first half. The Rockets were unreal when rushing out to a 34 to 23 first quarter lead. They outscored the Spurs 35 to 16 in the second quarter. The halftime score was a ridiculous 69 to 39.

There’s no way San Antonio could come back after getting absolutely destroyed in the first half. Game 1, so far, is the one anomaly from this series.

Game 2: Wednesday, May 3
San Antonio 121 vs Houston 96

Gregg Popovich, because he’s an amazing coach, made the necessary adjustments for San Antonio to completely turn the tables on Houston in Game 2.

Pop didn’t make a crazy adjustment. All he did was light a fire under his team so that they played three-point defense much better in Game 2 than they did in Game 3. The Spurs held the Rockets to 32.4% from three. Houston only made 11 of 34 three-point shots. San Antonio also out rebounded Houston 48 to 32.

Game 3: Friday, May 5
San Antonio 103 at Houston 92

It was now Houston coach Mike Dantoni’s chance to make an adjustment. I’m not sure if Dantoni tried to make an adjustment or not. I believe the issue that happened to Houston in Game 3 had to do with James Harden. Harden scored 43 points. He played 40 minutes. He took 28 shots. Houston lost by 11.

Game 4: Sunday, May 7
Houston 125 vs San Antonio 104

I’m positive Dantoni made the necessary adjustments in Game 4. While The Beard tried to take over Game 3, and failed to do so, he was much more inclined to trust his teammates in Game 4. Harden dished 12 assists while scoring 28 points.

All told, the Rockets had 7 players score in double-figures on Sunday night. In addition to The Beard, Patrick Beverly scored 10, Trevor Ariza scored 16, Ryan Anderson scored 13, Eric Gordon dropped 22, Lou Williams dropped 13, and Bobby Brown (which was his prerogative) scored 11.

San Antonio vs Houston Remaining Games

Game 5: Tuesday, May 9
Houston at San Antonio

Game 6: Thursday, May 11
San Antonio at Houston

Game 7: Sunday, May 14 **If Necessary
Houston at San Antonio

Remaining Games Analysis: I’m not confident picking the Spurs or the Rockets to win this series. Houston has an advantage in the fact that San Antonio great Tony Parker is out for the rest of the NBA Playoffs. But, the Spurs’ bench is deep.

The real key is whether San Antonio can adjust its defense to account for all of Houston’s scorers. Allowing Harden to go for 40 was the right move in Game 3. Unfortunately, Harden didn’t take the bait in Game 4. He turned into the Top 3 point-guard in the league that we’re used to seeing.

Popovich is a basketball genius. He’ll come up with something to counter Dantoni’s and Harden’s adjustment. I’m just not sure it will be enough without one of his great players, Tony Parker, out for the rest of the playoffs.

It pains me to say it because I love San Antonio, but, I must. I believe Houston wins the series in 6 games.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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