2023 NBA Conference Finals Preview

The Denver Nuggets have the team to represent the West in the NBA Finals. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

We are down to the final four of a season that no one would ever think they would witness. If you take a closer look, the teams that everyone thought would be playing in these games are now gone. Milwaukee was the best team of the season and they ended up getting bounced in the first round. The Golden State Warriors were favored in the West to repeat and were smashed by the last seed Lakers in 7 games. Dallas played in the Western Conference Finals last season and didn’t even make the playoffs this year. It took some time to get to this point and now we’re down to the final four. Representing the Western Conference in this season’s conference finals will be two of the best teams that have earned their spots. The Denver Nuggets and LA Lakers can easily go the full seven games and the winner of the series will be the favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this year. In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will battle to hang another championship banner in their rafters. Let’s take a closer look at each team and key players for their franchises.

Western Conference Finals
Huge questions loom over this series for both teams: Can LeBron will the Lakers to another championship and solidify his greatness? Can the Nuggets get past the Lakers and prove that this is Denver’s time? Who’s the better coach? The coach that can make adjustments in this series will lead his team into the NBA championship. The Denver Nuggets are one of the best young teams in the league and they are led by 2x time league MVP center Nikola Jokic. He is the x-factor for this series. He’s a walking triple double and can score 40 to 50 points at anytime. He leads his team in points, assists and rebounds. The LA Lakers is a team on a mission. The first names you hear are LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers barely made the playoffs but have already defeated the defending champions Golden State Warriors. The x-factor for the Lakers is 6’5 shooting guard Austin Reaves. He will be the match up problem from the Nuggets.

Records Heading into the Series
LA Lakers: 43-28, 20-21 Away
Denver Nuggets: 53-29, 34-7 Home
Game 1: May 16, 2023
Time: 7:30 TV: ESPN

You can break out your purple and gold jerseys from Laker stars of yesteryear and predict that the Lakers will win it all. Well! Allow me to take you down a peg. The Denver Nuggets are young, big and have talented players on its bench. Just ask the Phoenix Suns about how these guys play defense for all four quarters. Trust me the Lakers will put up a fight in every game, but the Nuggets have the better players. The over/under is 222.5 and the Nuggets are favored by -5.5. Take the over in this one. I’m taking Denver to win game 1 by 14.
Game 1 – Final Score: Lakers 92 – Nuggets 106

Eastern Conference Finals
The Miami Heat has mirrored the LA Lakers this season. At one time the Heat sat in 12th place almost all season in the East. They made a run to finish the season playing in the NBA play-in series and now they’re gearing up to playing in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. The Boston Celtics has hovered around the 3rd and 4th place in the Eastern Conference all season long. Keep an eye on the Celtics Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They will be instrumental for the Celtics getting into the Finals. The x-factor will be PG Marcus Smart. The Miami Heat will need SG Jimmy Butler to take the next step into leading the Heat on the road in Boston. Keep an eye on C Bam Adebayo. The worst mistake the Heat could do in this series is not start PG Kyle Lowry. He has a championship in Toronto and he’s the most experienced player at this juncture of the season. Start Lowry!

Records Heading into the Series
Miami Heat: 44-38, 17-24 Away
Boston Celtics: 57-25, 32-9 Home
Game 1: May 17, 2023
Time: 7:30PM TV: TNT

Boston bad boy Jason Tatum dropped 51 in Game 7 against the 76ers and sent them packing at home. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon all chipped in by hitting key shots deep into the shot clock in the Game 7 win. Boston is young but lack the championship pedigree (a veteran player who has done it) to get them over the hump. The Miami Heat have been one of the league’s biggest enigmas for the past 4 years. You never know how they are going to react to different situations during a game. Keep an eye on PG Kyle Lowry. He will be the x-factor for the Heat this series. I’m taking Boston by 6!
Game 1 – Final Score: Heat 100 – Celtics 106