Despite the improvements made by most title contenders, the Golden State Warriors remain as the heavy favorite to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2018-19 NBA season. The predictions are not surprising at all since after the Warriors won back-to-back NBA championship titles, they didn’t only retain their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, but they also managed to upgrade their roster with the acquisition of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in free agency.
With the Warriors expected to enter the NBA Playoffs 2019 with a starting lineup featuring five NBA All-Stars, it will definitely be hard to imagine them losing to any team in the league in a best-of-seven series. However, there are some people who don’t see the Warriors representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals this year. Add NBA Hall of Famer and analyst Charles Barkley to that list. In an interview with Brandon Robinson of Heavy, Barkley said that the Portland Trail Blazers are the ones going to the NBA Finals 2019 and not the Warriors.
“I like Portland in the [NBA] Finals,” Barkley told Robinson. “With [Damian] Lillard and [CJ] McCollum. The addition of Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter. I like them in the West.”
Charles Barkley said the same thing earlier in the month of March where he and fellow commentator Kenny Smith both agreed that the Trail Blazers will be making their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1992. Smith believes that the Trail Blazers have what it takes to beat the star-studded Warriors in a best-of-seven series.
“In the Western Conference Finals, the Portland Trail Blazers will be playing the Golden State Warriors,” Smith said, according to Oregon Live. “And, I want to go further. I want to say the Blazers will be in the NBA Finals. I want to go that far.”
Detroit Pistons beat Portland Trail Blazers, 99-90 https://t.co/payeps74Z1— Freep Sports (@freepsports) March 31, 2019
It’s easy to understand why Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are very optimistic about the Trail Blazers’ chances to fully dominate the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who are considered as one of the best backcourt duos in the league. As of now, the Trail Blazers continue to establish an impressive performance and have won eight of their last 10 games.
However, no one can blame people for not having the same insight as Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith regarding the Trail Blazers’ playoff chances. The Trail Blazers may be one of the best NBA teams during the regular season, but they failed to reciprocate the same performance in the playoffs, proven by the past two years where they were easily swept in the first round. To make things more complicated, the Trail Blazers will be entering the postseason without one of their key players, Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a gruesome injury in their recent game against the Brooklyn Nets.