NBA predictions: which team has what it takes to make it to the big game?

With the NBA season at the halfway mark, many basketball fans and analysts are giving their opinions and predictions on who they think will be in the finals. Currently, the standings for the Eastern Conference have the top three teams as the Toronto Raptors, 47-17, Boston Celtics, 45-20 and Cleveland Cavaliers at 38-26. The Western Conference top three teams are the Houston Rockets, 51-13, Golden State Warriors, 50-14 and Portland Trail Blazers, 39-26. 

With the Warriors as the reigning champions and the Cavaliers falling short last season, the true question is; will these two teams face each other again? Or will there be two new teams playing each other in the 2018 Finals?

LeBron James, the key player on the Cavaliers, will not go down with a fight.  However, the tenacious energy and fight on the Warriors’ starting lineup and bench means you can’t count them out. 

Speculations are high for the Rockets going to the Finals, but a lot can change in a couple of months. With less than 20 games remaining for most teams, like the Warriors, now is the time to turn up the heat and get some wins. The Warriors are trailing the Rockets by one game, and any mistake from here on out for the Warriors can determine their fate for the 2018 season. 

The Rockets currently have a 16-game win streak, and it is  hard to stop a team on a roll. If the Warriors want any chance to make it to the finals, the Rockets are the team to beat. 

With current rankings, these teams will most likely play each other in the playoffs, but the true question is can the Rockets beat the Warriors in a seven-game series? According to NBA TV and NBA.com analyst Sekou Smith, yes. “It’s not a fluke what the Rockets are doing right now,” he said. “They’ve been good all year, and they came back a completely different team in terms of the DNA they have together now.” 

Houston is 2-1 against Golden State this season and beat the Warriors, 122-121, on opening night in October. The help of Chris Paul this season has made the biggest difference for the Rockets. Though James Harden averages 31 points a game, Paul supplements the game with his own impressive stats. According to CBS Sports Radio with Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, Harden and Paul are the best duos in basketball. However, we cannot find out who is truly the better duo until these teams meet again in a playoff setting with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. 

On the Eastern Conference side, the Celtics are going to have to step it up if they want to see a final game against a Western Conference team. With the Raptors up by two and a half games, they’re going to have to make no mistakes. But with 18 games left for the Raptors, a lot can change in the rest of the season. The Celtics only have 16 more games left in their season to come back and potentially have that first spot ahead of the Raptors. 

Both the Warriors and Celtics have a lot of work to do before any final game, but for some reason these two teams seem like they could potentially pull it off. My NBA 2018 finals prediction are the Warriors and the Celtics.