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HomesportCeltics-Pacers, Wolves-Mavs: Biggest questions, predictions for NBA conference finals

Celtics-Pacers, Wolves-Mavs: Biggest questions, predictions for NBA conference finals


We’re all the way down to the overall 4 within the NBA playoffs: Celtics-Pacers within the East and Timberwolves-Mavericks within the West. Who will succeed within the convention finals with a go back and forth to the Finals at the sequence?

Our NBA staff breaks ailing the most important questions in every matchup and makes their choices.


Vincent Kindness: Boston’s psyche. This layout will progress so long as the Celtics need it to. They’re the most important favourite in a convention ultimate since Golden State in 2017. Sure, that Warriors group. Porziņģis’ condition is a excess query mark, together with Boston’s intensity. However their way is what is going to fear everybody — do they acknowledge and respect the chance in entrance of them? And Jayson Tatum needs to be higher offensively.

Dan Devine: Can Indiana decelerate Boston’s offense plenty to win shootouts? I consider the Pacers will publish issues: They scored nearly 122 points per 100 possessions in opposition to the Dollars in Spherical 1, and nearly 130 points-per-100 in opposition to the Knicks in Spherical 2. However they’re going through a Celtics group that used to be the NBA’s No. 1 offense right through the familiar season, used to be similarly scorching in opposition to Miami and Cleveland, and likewise boasts the stingiest defense of any group nonetheless within the match. Indiana’s protection, at the alternative hand, is probably the most suspect unit on this layout. It’ll wish to stiffen up for the Pacers to have a devotion.

Jake Fischer: Kristaps Porziņģis’ condition. Boston will face a full-strength Pacers group driving plethora of momentum from Sport 7 at MSG. Indiana boasts a real frontline with Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam that the Celtics may just undoubtedly significance a definite 7-foot-3 heart to battle.

Dan Titus: Will an competitive Tyrese Haliburton display up at TD Field? There’s a stark extra in Haliburton’s house and street splits this postseason. The Pacers have ruled at house within the 2024 playoffs (6-0), however Haliburton is a -30 plus/minus at the street. He’s averaging simply 16.6 issues, 4.1 rebounds and seven.7 assists at the street in comparison to 21.5 issues, 6.0 rebounds and eight.5 assists at house, with six extra field-goal makes an attempt consistent with sport. Indy wishes you Hali!

Ben Rohrbach: Indiana’s protection. Haliburton has nowhere to cover on that finish, and Boston will relentlessly goal him within the pick-and-roll. Book up neatly plenty, and he’s going to give Pascal Siakam and Aaron Nesmith a puncher’s probability in opposition to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Don’t, and the Pacers’ whole defensive machine collapses beneath the burden of Boston’s ability.

Read our Celtics-Pacers series breakdown.


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - MAY 15: Dereck Lively II #2 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates with Luka Doncic #77 against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at Paycom Center on May 15, 2024 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - MAY 15: Dereck Lively II #2 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates with Luka Doncic #77 against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at Paycom Center on May 15, 2024 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)
The Mavs took ailing the Refuse. 1 seed within the West. Can they hurry off any other disenchanted? (Picture by way of Joshua Gateley/Getty Pictures)

Devine: Can Minnesota’s protection keep up in opposition to Dallas’ two-headed monster? Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving can devastation loose protection, hunt and exploit mismatches with the proper of them, and switch even an magnificient defensive ownership to ash with natural uncut shotmaking. The Wolves simply outlasted a defending-champion Nuggets group that had one of the ones guys; can they repeat the trick in opposition to a Mavericks aspect with two of them?

Rohrbach: Dallas’ capturing. With out Maxi Kleber to play games a five-out emblem of ball reverse Rudy Gobert, how does Jason Kidd area the Timberwolves? Can PJ Washington keep up as a small-ball 5? Can Derrick Jones Jr., Josh Green and Dante Exum be worthy protection valves for Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving? It’s the one method to steer clear of getting swallowed up by way of Minnesota’s protection.

Titus: Can the Timberwolves prohibit second-chance issues? The Gobert-Cities-Reid frontcourt may have its fingers complete because the Mavericks were pacing with the Knicks in relation to offensive rebounding and turning loose balls into buckets. The Wolves are doing a excellent task retaining the sequence, despite the fact that, permitting warring parties simply 9.6 second-chance points consistent with sport within the postseason.

Fischer: Who guards P.J. Washington, and the way efficient will he be? Washington used to be such an remarkable a part of Dallas’ struggle in opposition to OKC, scoring 27 and 29, and next coming alive within the fourth quarter of Sport 6. In the beginning blush, this could appear to be the matchup for Karl-Anthony Towns — at all times a query mark —despite the fact that Minnesota will most probably exchange up its appears to be like all over the layout.

Kindness: Can Dallas’ obese males develop up in a single day? Suffice to mention, the Timberwolves went throughout the boss of all bosses in Nikola Jokić, and Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II held up neatly in opposition to OKC. But when Karl-Anthony Cities unlocked adulthood and Rudy Gobert exorcised a demon in opposition to Jokić, is there some newfound self belief? In fact there’s “Who guards Ant?” and “Who does Ant guard?” however the impaired announcing, “No rebounds, no rings,” may just keep true — take a look at the rebound disparity in Sport 7 in Denver, particularly in that moment part.


Rohrbach: Celtics in 5. Each groups can ranking the heck out of the ball, however just one performs protection. The Celtics have too many defensive choices to sluggish Haliburton, and the Pacers don’t have plenty to restrain everybody they wish to.

Fischer: Celtics in 6. Indiana made my Knicks in 5 prediction glance somewhat silly, despite the fact that I uphold it used to be having a look mighty tremendous till OG Anunoby’s hamstring got here up lame. The Celtics are rested. They’ve been right here sooner than. This layout is the place their enjoy can in point of fact glimmer.

Kindness: Celtics in 6. They’ll fiddle for a sport, like they at all times do. And the Pacers will kill the lighting fixtures out in any other sport, like Sport 7 at Madison Sq. Field. Porziņģis being out extends this relatively longer, however the Celtics can’t find the money for to clutter round excess.

Devine: Celtics in 5. Regardless of how wholesome Kristaps Porziņģis finishes up being, I don’t assume the Pacers will be capable to generate plenty stops to position greater than a temporary velocity bump in Boston’s trail to the Finals.

Titus: Celtics in 6. The Pacers can scouse borrow a few video games, particularly with the dubiousness round Kristaps Porziņģis’ go back past. Whether or not it’s the inevitable Boston letdown sport or a few outlier capturing performances from Indy, the Celtics are taking part in on any other tier than somebody else within the East. Barring any unexpected accidents, they’re on the right track for the NBA Finals.


Fischer: Wolves in 6. Dallas is clicking on all cylinders, however the Wolves have an optimum lineup to battle the Mavericks defensively. Jaden McDaniels will attempt to silhoutte Luka Dončić. Anthony Edwards will attempt and smother Kyrie Irving. And the Timberwolves’ measurement, in comparison to OKC’s slim frontcourt, can appear a lot greater to Dallas than they seem on Wednesday evening.

Kindness: Wolves in 7. It gained’t be simple, coming ailing off the prime of thrashing the champs at the street takes one thing out of you, and this group used to be constructed to overcome Denver, now not essentially Dallas. Luka and Kyrie are frightening, and can put this layout at risk, however with each groups sensing a chance, it’ll construct for a compelling two weeks. As we’ve unhidden, the rest can occur in a Sport 7.

Devine: Wolves in 7. I may really feel silly in two weeks, however I felt silly nearest choosing in opposition to Minnesota within the first two rounds, too. The NBA playoffs: Probably the most exhilarating mode but built to construct you’re feeling like an fool.

Rohrbach: Wolves in 6. The Mavericks may have the proper participant within the layout, despite the fact that Anthony Edwards may have one thing to mention about that, however Minnesota may boast boast six of the proper 9 choices within the best-of-seven poised. The Wolves’ intensity and really elite protection must be plenty to get it accomplished faster than after.

Titus: Mavericks in 7. I need to choose the Wolves, however one thing tells me that is the place the Luka/Kyrie tandem takes over. Minnesota gained the familiar season layout 3-1, however that used to be sooner than Dallas traded for PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford. The Mavs are a distinct beast now, so I’m fading the Minnesota hype educate.



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