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NBA 2016 Playoffs: Who Will Square Up With James Again: Curry or Durant?

It’s all come down to this. Star-studded match ups, a sixth consecutive trip to the Finals at stake, and an opportunity to capitalize on an historic season by hoisting up a title for a second consecutive year.

Who will find themselves facing off for all of the marbles come June 2? Between the Cavaliers, Thunder, Warriors and Raptors, no one has an easy escort to the promised land.

Out West, the Golden State Warriors will potentially face their biggest challenge in these playoffs, while their opponent, the Oklahoma City Thunder, is coming off an impressive outing of one of the beasts of the West, the San Antonio Spurs.

The Golden State Warriors will look to return to the NBA Finals and continue their quest for a repeat by knocking off the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder has been waiting for this opportunity since 2012 and won’t play dead for the Warriors, either. They proved that in Game 1 on May 16 by beating the Warriors in Oracle Arena 108-102 and taking home court advantage to Oklahoma City as well. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Warriors lead 88-85 over the Thunder and looked like they were going to do what was necessary to win the game — until they didn’t.

The Thunder flexed its muscles on the defensive side of the ball, only holding Golden State to 14 points throughout the 4th quarter, while scoring 23 points of their own. Kevin Durant drained a 15 foot jump shot to give the Thunder a 105-100 edge with 30 seconds remaining, followed by two missed crucial threes by Stephen Curry that wrapped up the game. Durant scored 26 points to go along with Westbrook’s 27 points and 12 assists. If no one took this team seriously before last night, May 16th, I think it’s time to start.

Even with Golden States’ collapse, though, I will still give the Warriors the nod in this series. The Warriors will rebound as a team and win this series 4-2 and advance to the NBA Finals for a second consecutive season.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers look to continue their reign as East champs for the 2nd straight year. But first, they have to take down the hungry Toronto Raptors, led by their combo guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The series tips off on May 17. During the regular season, it was the Raptors who came out victorious over Cleveland 2-1.  Now, in the games that matter, it’s the Cavaliers that have the home court advantage and look to make quick work of the Raptors.

If the Raptors need any motivation to knock off the Cavaliers, there’s the fact that Cleveland has an unblemished record this postseason at 8-0, James is looking to advance to his sixth straight Finals appearance, as well as this being the first time the Raptors have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals in franchise history. The Cavs should look to take advantage of this being the Raptors’ first time in the Conference Finals in their franchise’s history.

An interesting fact that lies within this series is that the Cavs have played the least amount of playoff games (8) and the Raptors have played the most (14), due to the Raptors playing all 7 games in the first 2 series’.

Who will prevail here? The Cavs, that’s who, by winning this series 4-1. The Cavs will meet up with Golden State for their second duel in this year’s NBA Finals. Let’s just hope that everyone, on both rosters, will be healthy heading into the Finals.

About Nicholas Katsadas

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