Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team player Kawhi Leonard is photographed during media day in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

NBA Conference Finals: East and West Preview

The 2018-19 NBA campaign is reaching its endpoint as it heads into the NBA Conference Finals. The Portland Trail Blazers will face the Golden State Warriors for the Western throne while the Toronto Raptors go head-to-head with the Milwaukee Bucks for Eastern kingship.

Battle in the West

Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers will march down to Oakland and face the 1-seeded Golden State Warriors who plan to defend the Oracle Arena in game one.

The Trail Blazers left the Pepsi Center as quiet as a public library after a 100-96 win in game 7 over the Nuggets. As a matter of fact, Portland came back from a 17-point deficit to earn its spot in the Western Conference Final.

Portland has relied on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum on the scoring side of the game. To enumerate, Lillard is the fifth best shooter in the post-season averaging 28 ppg while McCollum sits in seventh with 26 ppg. In addition to Lillard’s scoring ability, he also enjoys taking charge of commanding the floor and distributing the ball. Lillard currently sits tenth in post-season for assists averaging six per game.

In terms of defense, Enes Kanter is Portland’s go to defender retrieving the most rebounds for his team during the postseason (11 rpg). Kanter also helped Portland keep Nikola Jokic suppressed in its series against Denver.

Golden State Warriors

The defending champions have played as many games as the Blazers (12) despite defeating the Houston Rockets in game six. James Harden and Chris Paul combined for a total of 62 points, but that figure was not enough to take the series to game seven.

The Warriors find themselves in a Western Conference Final for the sixth consecutive time and have not failed to progress to the NBA Championship in all five.

Kevin Durant has taken over the post-season by averaging 34 ppg in just 11 games. As a matter of fact, Durant is the Points Per Game leader in the postseason.

However, Kevin Durant suffered a high calf strain on his right leg during game five against the Rockets. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, he will sit out for Game 1 and will be reevaluated on Thursday which means he will most likely miss Game 2.

This means that the Warriors will have to utilize their other three All-Stars. Starting with Stephen Curry. Curry is not too far behind Durant in ppg, he’s currently sitting in tenth place averaging 24 ppg.

Draymond Green is yet again having an outstanding postseason and a key piece in the squad. Green averages 1.33 bpg (9th), 8 apg (4th) and 9.3 rpg (9th) so far in the playoffs.

Game one will take place on Tuesday at 9 p.m. in the Oracle Arena.

Battle in the East

Toronto Raptors

The unsung heroes found themselves in their second conference final ever and in a tremendous fashion.

Kawhi Leonard manipulated gravity and time to his favor as his 18-foot shot from the far side corner of the court danced on the rim. The ball clashed with the rim four times before it sunk in the net taking Philadelphia’s hopes to make it to the Conference final down with it.

Leonard who’s future is on the limbo since he will be a free agent at the end of the season is second in points per game averaging 32 in playoffs. In terms of distribution, Kyle Lowry is the man who facilitates Leonard and players in the court. However, Lowry has had a floppy and inconsistent playoffs so far.

When he’s playing well he’s definitely a key factor, yet when he plays bad it’s the complete opposite side of the spectrum. In one game against the Sixers, Lowry was able to only score seven points as the starting point guard. Lowry is averaging 7 apg.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have not tasted defeat as many times as the Raptors. They swept the Pistons and only let the Celtics grasp one win in the entire series. Both teams possess momentum, but the Bucks have been more dominant during the playoffs.

Potential MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has kept his good form rolling throughout the postseason averaging 27.4 ppg, 1.56 bpg, and11.3 rpg. The Greek Freak is living up to his nickname and his match-up with Leonard will be the highlight of the series.

Game one will take place Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Fiserv Forum.

About Juan Aguerrevere

Figuring out a plan to make it big in the soccer scene in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. For now, I'm having a blast writing for ESPN Gainesville and learning a lot from managers and students around the workplace. I'm covering the TV beat for Gators Soccer. What a team! Follow me on twitter: @J_AguerrevereUF

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