Sometimes the NBA does this crazy thing where the best East teams who have been great all year meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors were a clear cut second best team in the East, and despite a scare from the 76ers they will get their chance to show they are the cream of the crop. There are a handful of matchups that will go a long way to deciding who wins this series, things like who will guard Giannis, who will guard Kawhi, how the center matchup goes, etc. So I figured why not write a list of key matchups that will determine the series.
- Who is guarding Giannis?
They will likely use a combination of Siakam and Ibaka, varying between the two depending on effectiveness. They will try and do some man defense, but will likely shade off some of the Bucks less accomplished shooters to try and limit him in the paint. The too long didn’t read answer is many will try and few will succeed.
- Who is guarding Kawhi?
Short answer: not Giannis. It makes no sense for Giannis to guard a guy who likes to utilize screens and shoot pull-ups, that is a weaker aspect of Giannis’s game. Khris will likely get the nod, he did a fine job on Kawhi in regular season. Kawhi will likely get his, but if you can get that points per shot number close to 1, like Philly did the Bucks stand a good chance of advancing.
- Who does Marc Gasol guard?
Toronto’s big trade deadline acquisition looks to be a man without a home, based on my point of view. Putting him on anyone smaller than Giannis or Brook seems like a death sentence. Putting him on Brook takes Gasol away from the rim and forces him to move outside. Putting him on Giannis is a total mismatch footspeed wise.
- Can Eric Bledsoe win his third straight PG matchup?
Kyle Lowry is no Kyrie Irving, in fact Lowry has a reputation for disappearing when his team needs him most. This reputation is somewhat inaccurate, but Lowry gains it by being a jack of all trades that has scoring issues. Bledsoe will outscore Lowry, but the Bucks will need him to be disruptive and make plays for others to truly win the matchup.
- Can Brook Lopez get back on track?
After potentially the best NBA season of his career, Lopez has gone a little flat in the playoffs. He is missing wide open shots and although his defense has been consistent the Bucks will likely need a bigger offensive threat from to win a title. The wide open threes have to start falling eventually right?
- Can Bud outcoach Nurse?
I feel like the answer is yes, but this series would be a nice achievement to add to Bud’s legacy. How many coaches have won 60+ with two different teams?
These are the key matchups that in my opinion will dictate how the series goes. The series is set to tip Tonight (5/15/2019) at 730 CST.