Chaotic 2024 NBA Conference Finals Set to Commence


The 2024 NBA Conference Finals are set to commence this week, with the Eastern Conference Finals up first Tuesday night. Let’s take a look at how each team got here.

Dallas Mavericks

The backcourt duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving advanced to the Western Conference Finals in their first full season together.

Doncic’s brilliance has the five-seed Mavericks to the WCF for the second time in three years while Irving is back in the Conference Finals for the first time since 2017 when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The big men for the Mavs have been phenomenal in turning around their defense. Mid-season addition Daniel Gafford and rookie Dereck Lively have locked up the interior once opponents attempt to take shots at the rim.

Neither big gets a play ran for them, but they have dominated on rolling to the rim for alley oops.

Check out this Doncic-Lively pick-and-roll where they attack the Clippers’ coverage — at the level — that results in Lively getting behind the Clippers’ defense for the alley-oop.

The role players stepped up in the postseason throughout their run. Defenses have left P.J. Washington open to help off Doncic and they have also left Derrick Jones open on the perimeter by design – and the role players have made them pay.

Here’s Washington knocking down one of his several clutch 3-pointers.

An MVP-level player who has made the playoffs four times in six seasons, Doncic has a legit co-star for the first time in his postseason career.

That co-star, Irving, has a chance to return to the NBA finals for the first time since 2017.

Boston Celtics

The wing duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the 64-18 Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third-straight season.

It’s Tatum’s fifth Conference Finals appearance in seven seasons.

Brown has made it this far six times in eight seasons.

The other two seasons Brown did not make it to the Conference Finals was 2021 when he missed the playoffs due to a wrist injury and 2019 when the Celtics were gentlemen-swept by the Bucks.

Having Jrue Holiday as a fourth or fifth option is a luxury as he and Derrick White have caused chaos on the defensive end of the perimeter.

On this play, White navigates through a screen and blows up the dribble-handoff action.

Boston has been heavily reliant on their starters— only Payton Pritchard has averaged over 20 minutes of playing time off the bench.

Boston’s five-out offense gave defenses a ton of problems. The Cavaliers get caught pre-switching and Holiday hits White on a skip pass for an open 3-pointer.

Tatum and Brown are looking to avenge their 2022 Finals loss. They have experience different phases of their career in Boston— from contributing to the No. 1 defense in their 2022 Finals run to being the No. 1 team in three-point jacks in back-to-back seasons.

Unlike previous playoff runs, there’s hasn’t been inconsistency from Tatum where he can drop 19 points in one game and then drop a masterclass of 50 points the next game.

After averaging a career-best 26.6 points per game last year, Brown has willingly reduced the number of shots he’s taken this year and he’s elevated his game on the defensive end.

Indiana Pacers

In his first playoff run, Tyrese Haliburton has led the Pacers to its first Eastern Conference Finals since 2014.

Midseason acquisition Pascal Siakam has been a seamless fit for the Pacers. After winning the 2019 NBA Finals with the Raptors, Siakam brought this young Pacers team playoff experience.

Myles Turner, the longest tenured Pacer and the player that was in trade rumors basically every year, has seen not only his first playoff series win, but also his first Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

The role players, T.J. McConnell and Aaron Nesmith have been critical to the Pacers’ success.

McConnell’s midrange game has been automatic in the playoffs.

Heading into the postseason, the Pacers had the highest-scoring offense (123.3 ppg) but allowed the fourth-most points (120.2 ppg). Despite their regular-season defensive lapses, their defense came up with stretches of crucial stops when it mattered most in the playoffs.

Nesmith’s perimeter defense helped changed the tide when he became the primary defender on Jalen Brunson for Game 3 and the rest of the series.

Here’s a highlight of Nesmith putting the clamps on Brunson:

Haliburton, who led the league in assists per game (10.9) has a chance to make the NBA Finals in his first playoff run.

Siakam, who was second on the Raptors championship team in points per game, (19.0) has chance to return to the NBA Finals for the second time as the team’s second-leading scorer.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Young star Anthony Edwards has led the Timberwolves back to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in twenty years.

His co-star, Karl-Anthony Towns, the longest tenured Timberwolf, has played a massive role to helping the Timberwolves become a Finals contender.

First, Towns took the backseat, becoming the robin to Edwards’ batman. Second, Towns changed positions, going from the five to the four when the Timberwolves acquired Rudy Gobert via trade.

The 18-year veteran Mike Conley, finally won his first Game 7 of his career on Sunday. He’s back in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2013.

Led by the four-time Defensive Player of the Year, the Timberwolves rode their top-ranked defense to the West Finals.

In a matchup against the defending champion Denver Nuggets, Gobert gave the Wolves the perfect personnel to defend Nikola Jokic‘s lob to Aaron Gordon.

Towns also took on the challenge of defending Jokic, allowing Gobert to roam around the rim.

Edwards, in his third playoff run, has the chance to take Minnesota to where it has never been— the NBA Finals.

Conley and Gobert will also face against the Mavs again in the playoffs. The last time Conley and Gobert played the Mavericks, it was their final game as members of the Utah Jazz.

Get ready for a chaotic Conference Finals full of young stars.

It’s guaranteed that one of the four remaining young stars— Tatum, Doncic, Edwards or Haliburton, will earn their first championship this season.

About Mac Pham

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