2019 NBA Finals Predictions

Poster for the 2019 NBA Finals

Poster for the 2019 NBA Finals

Josh Hobbs and Jacob Chaimovitch

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After many months of the regular season and three very exciting rounds of playoff play, the 2019 NBA season will come to a conclusion in a little over a week. The Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors are set to face off in the NBA Finals after both teams claimed the title for their conference. The series is set to start this Thursday, with the Raptors starting off the series at home, given they’re the higher seed. So far, the Warriors are being heavily favored to win the series. But with the momentum the Raptors have now, there’s nothing certain to happen in this series. Let’s dive on in.

The Warriors are coming off a sweep against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals (which Jacob and I also did predictions on). This caps their fifth straight Finals appearance, and they will go for their fourth title win in those last five years. This will the first Finals appearance in the five year period where the Warriors are not facing Lebron James team. Even though the Warriors managed to sweep the Blazers, they also played the majority of the series actually down and managed to find ways to bounce back in the 4th quarter in three of the four games. What made this sweep even more impressive, is that the Warriors managed to do it with arguably their best player, Kevin Durant, who missed the entire series with a calf strain. It is also now confirmed that Kevin Durant will miss Game 1 of the Finals, but he did travel with the team to Toronto. With the absence of Durant, the Warriors have been led by two-time MVP Steph Curry, who has been on a tear recently. Another interesting factor is the status of Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins, who has been out with a torn quad for over a month. While his injury still is recent, he was listed on the official injury report as questionable for Game 1. If he is able to return to the lineup and provide valuable minutes, it gives the Warriors a serious advantage.

On the other hand, the Raptors are coming off a thrilling series win against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors started off the series losing the first two games but then coming back to win four straight to win the series. The is the first Finals appearance in Raptor history, but don’t expect them to lack presence on the biggest of stages. They’re arguably playing their best basketball of the year, with stellar defense and offensive production for a wide range of players. Now I could talk about how incredible of a postseason Kawhi Leonard has had for hours, but I ‘m to focus on what I believe to be the x-factor in this series, Pascal Siakam. So far this postseason, he has averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.1 Rebounds and 2.6 Assists, and has consistently made 3s throughout the playoffs. He has also provided the Raptors with great defense and essentially has played the perfect role player the Raptors hoped he turned out to be. If Toronto is able to maintain their stellar defense that has been on display over the last four games, I can easily see the Raptors beating this Kevin Durant-less Warriors squad.

Our Predictions:

 

Josh:

My Pick: Golden State Warriors Win Series 4-3

This is very difficult to choose, but I ended up choosing the team that has been here before. Even though I don’t expect Kevin Durant to be able to play during the Finals, I can trust the three other all-stars (and maybe four if Demarcus Cousins returns) to find ways to win. I do believe the Raptors have an actual shot at winning the series, but the experience of the Warriors and their ability to get hot from deep, are what I trust.

Jacob:

My Pick: Toronto Raptors Win Series 4-3

Call me crazy, but I’m picking the Raptors to dethrone the Warriors dynasty. This whole series is dependent on the status of Kevin Durant. The longer he is out, the more this series favors the Toronto Raptors. I have the impression that Durant will be out for a very long time. What started as a mild calf strain in Game 6 against the Rockets has turned into a major issue, especially since the injury itself happened over 20 days ago and it looks as if there has been very little progression in him getting better. Toronto likely wins this series because they get home-court advantage. Jurassic Park (the nickname for the Scotiabank Arena) has been very loud and very influential in the Raptors advancement in the playoffs. Despite a red-hot Steph Curry and Draymond Green playing on a KD-less Warriors team, I see the Raptors as the favorite as long as KD stays out of the series. The Raptors already are off to a good start, having won the first game of the series at home 118-109.