After a pair of dramatic Game Sevens on Sunday, the matchups for this year’s NBA Conference Finals are set. The Warriors will face the Trail Blazers in the West, while the Bucks and Raptors will square off in the East.
While the Warriors’ presence in 2019’s final four is no surprise, the teams joining them there historically haven’t made a ton of deep postseason runs.
The Blazers, led by a backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, have made the playoffs for six straight years, but this is the first time this group has advanced to the Western Finals, and the first time any Portland team has made it that far since 2000. The last time the Blazers appeared in the Finals was in 1992, when Clyde Drexler‘s squad fell to Michael Jordan‘s Bulls. The franchise hasn’t won a title since 1977.
Like Portland, the Bucks haven’t appeared in the Eastern Finals in nearly two decades. In fact, coming into these playoffs, Milwaukee hadn’t won a single postseason series since 2001, when the club fell in the Eastern Finals to Philadelphia. The Bucks last appeared in the NBA Finals in 1974 and won their last – and only – championship in 1971.
While those title droughts are lengthy, Portland and Milwaukee can at least say they’ve won a championship. That’s not the case for the Raptors, who have never even appeared in the NBA Finals since entering the league in 1995. Toronto appeared in the Eastern Finals once before, in 2016, but has never gotten over the hump and represented the conference in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors, who have won three of the last four NBA titles, and the Bucks, who won an NBA-best 60 games and led the league in net rating this season, will enter the Conference Finals as the favorites. But it would be a mistake to write off the Blazers or the Raptors, who are battle-tested in this postseason after dispatching tough opponents in seven-game series. Kevin Durant‘s calf remains a question mark for Golden State, while Toronto’s veterans have significantly more playoff experience than the Bucks’ roster.
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Published at Mon, 13 May 2019 14:51:19 +0000