The NBA Conference Championship round has arrived, which means we are down to the final four teams in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. In the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors face the Portland Trail Blazers, while in the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Toronto Raptors. You can get our picks for each series by reading on or by watching the video at the top of this article.
Starting in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks didn’t get off to the best start against the Boston Celtics in Round 2. Opening the series at home, Milwaukee took their first loss of the postseason in Game 1, and some analysts thought it might be evidence of weakness in the team. Those analysts would turn out to be very wrong, as the Bucks won four straight games after that to complete the “Gentleman’s Sweep,” knocking the Celtics out of the postseason with a 4-1 series win.
For Round 3, Milwaukee faces the second seed from the East, the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors needed the full seven games to get through Philadelphia, and they needed every single second of Game 7. With the game tied 90-90, Kawhi Leonard threw up a shot at the buzzer to try for the win. Four bounces off the rim later, and the ball dropped in for the series-winning points.
In the West, Golden State managed to get through Houston in Round 2. The Rockets were considered by many to be the biggest challenge to the Warriors’ thrones this season. Despite not having DeMarcus Cousins at all for the series, and then losing Kevin Durant in Game 5 on top of that, Golden State took the series with relative ease in six games. With eight more wins, the Warriors could earn their third consecutive championship and fourth in five years.
Standing in their way in the Western Conference is Portland. The Trail Blazers were betting underdogs in each of their first two series of the Playoffs but managed to pick up wins both times. In Round 2, the Trail Blazers had to overcome a 3-2 series deficit to Denver. The Blazers beat the Nuggets at home in Game 6, then overcame a nearly 20-point deficit to win on the road in Game 7.
Toronto and Portland each enter the Conference Finals as heavy underdogs, and with good reason. Before these playoffs began, Golden State and Milwaukee were each considered clear-cut favorites to win their respective Conferences, and nothing about that has changed through two rounds. I’m picking the favorites for each series as well, though I might recommend that bettors looking to get some value for their betting dollar consider betting on the length of the series rather than the outcome.
Portland and Toronto should each provide reasonable enough challenges to skip over betting for a series sweep, so my recommendation is to bet on the Western Conference Finals going six games and the Eastern Conference Finals going either five or six games (depending on how much of that Game 7 win momentum Toronto can carry over).
Drew has been covering sports professionally since 2007, covering sports of all kinds in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA. In addition to covering college sports, he also spent two seasons working with the NHL's Florida Panthers as part of their TV broadcast team, as well as reporting and anchoring for AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports affiliates, CBS Sports Network and ESPNU. Drew has also ...
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