The Conference Finals have presented some unprecedented scenarios for the NBA. In a league that’s had team after team be the dominant force, there may be a chance for someone to say they deserve the new crown.
The Los Angeles Clippers have had a history that’s filled to the brim with bad luck. For one reason or another, they’ve never been able to make it this far. Whether it was injuries, better teams, or choking away leads, the Clippers always failed to make it to the conference finals. Now, though, Tyrone Lue has helped get the team to that peak and they’re looking to hit the mountaintop of the NBA Finals.
The Phoenix Suns are in a rare spot for the team. It’s been a while since the Suns had this much success, not seen since the 90s. Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton seem to have matured into the stars the team has been hoping for. Chris Paul, while dealing with medical issues, has still been a spark that the Suns have needed for their younger core. Taking out the Lakers and Nuggets, two of the biggest threats any team could face, just adds to their story.
The Milwaukee Bucks may finally be able to make it to the next stage. With the former two-time MVP in Giannis Antetekounmpo leading the charge, the Bucks have gone through a gauntlet to make it this far. The Brooklyn Nets are out and the Miami Heat were decimated by the Bucks. It’s been a debate about how well the Bucks would look if they won, and it seems as if they’ve taken the criticism to heart.
The Atlanta Hawks shouldn’t have made it this far. By all accounts, they were dead in the water early on in the season. When Lloyd Pierce was fired though, Nate McMillan stepped up and delivered. Behind Trae Young’s leadership, the Hawks have become a threat for just about any team to deal with. Going through the Knicks and then eliminating the 76ers, Atlanta has kept themselves alive when no one predicted it.
For the first time in 17 years, the #1 seeds failed to make it to the finals. That year, the Seattle Supersonics and Atlanta Hawks were both taken out in the preceding rounds. Those Finals ended up being the Houston Rockets versus the Utah Jazz, with the Rockets going on to win it all.
Regardless of who emerges victorious, this NBA Finals will be historic on many levels. The Hawks haven’t made it to the Finals since 1958, when the team was still in St. Louis. The Clippers have yet to make it to the Finals once, already setting a precedent for their best season. The Bucks were last there in 1974, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson were still with the team. The Suns had made it in 1993 before losing to the all-time great Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
It’s rare that leagues get breaks from periods of domination. They can often set up the future, or at bare minimum just show that other teams can be just as good. No matter who goes into the finals, fans will be in store for some exciting basketball.