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Aidin Ebrahimi’s 2024 NBA Semifinal Playoff Summary

A review of Western Conference Second-Round action with a pick for the MVP of the round

Posted on May 22, 2024


  By Aidin Ebrahimi, SuperWest Sports

A new era of NBA basketball is here.

Now that Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets have been eliminated, four young superstars are left to battle it out for the NBA title.

Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum are all looking to win their first-ever NBA championship.

Here’s my review of the semifinal action, including my pick for the MVP of the second round.


It’s the Ant Show Now

No. 2 Nuggets vs. No. 3 Timberwolves (Timberwolves won 4-3)

And just like that, the defending champions are out!

I don’t think many people realize just how difficult it is to defend a title in American sports.

Before the Chiefs had a successful title defense last season, there hadn’t been a repeat Super Bowl champion since 2004. In the last 20 years, the 2010 Lakers were the only non-superteam who managed to successfully defend their title.

The Nuggets are certainly not a superteam, so there was always a chance that they would go down against another Western Conference team.

The shocking part here is that the Timberwolves—who are widely regarded as one of the worst franchises in major American sports—were the ones who managed to knock them out.

It’s a legendary accomplishment for this group, who have shown great unity and synergy all season long.

9News.com
Timberwolves guard Anthony “Ant-Man” Edwards vs the Nuggets | 9News.com

I said it in the previous article and I’ll say it again, any other contending team would have traded the likes of Jaden McDaniels, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Naz Reid in a heartbeat if a big-name superstar was available.

But the Wolves did the right thing and kept their squad together after seeing how badly this tactic could backfire in the first year of the Rudy Gobert experiment.

Don’t get me wrong, Gobert is a great player who has done a lot to shed the narrative of him being a “playoff choker”. But I believe this team would be even better than they are right now had they kept the pieces that they used to acquire Gobert.

Still, they are currently on the path to a potential NBA championship and need to win just eight more games to finish the job. The Nuggets on the other hand, simply got unlucky and choked a 20-point lead early in the third quarter of Game 7.

There shouldn’t be much reason to worry for the Nuggets, as they can easily retool the roster by adding more reliable veterans and bank on the development of their young pieces like Christian Braun, who recorded two consecutive double-digit-point games in the series.


The Big Misconception

No. 1 Thunder vs. No. 5 Mavericks (Mavericks won 4-2)

Appearing on NBA on TNT after Game 5, Bulls guard Alex Caruso had an interesting, but misleading observation regarding the state of both teams.

“It’s kind of like OKC is playing against the future version of themselves in Dallas,” Caruso said. “Two guys that you can kind of go to and then the rest of the guys need more experience.”

Of course, NBA Twitter saw this take and ran with it, with many saying how “seasoned” the Mavs are compared to the Thunder, and how it was expected that OKC would struggle against them.

Except…that’s not necessarily the case. Sure, the Mavs made the Western Conference Finals two years ago, but that team is nearly unrecognizable from the current Mavericks.

Doncic and Maxi Kleber (who is currently out injured) are the only two players left on that 2021-22 roster who played more than 250 minutes in the 2022 playoffs.

USA TODAY Sports
Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving vs the Thunder | USA TODAY Sports

P.J. Washington, Derrick Jones Jr., Daniel Gafford, and Derek Lively combined to average 49.2 PPG in the series against OKC. These four players had a combined 283 minutes of postseason experience prior to this season.

And before you mention Kyrie Irving, yes, he certainly showed tons of leadership, and the team looked leaps and bounds better during the series when he was on the floor.

But still, Jalen Brunson’s scoring in the 2022 playoffs had the same impact, if not more, than Irving’s current performances.

In conclusion, this current Mavericks team isn’t a “playoff-tested juggernaut” but rather, a young team with two go-to guys, just like the Thunder.

Thunder fans shouldn’t make excuses for this loss and simply look at their poor bench as the main reason for their defeat in a very close playoff series that could have gone either way.


Western Conference Finals Preview

No. 3 Timberwolves vs. No. 5 Mavericks

This series is pivotal. It can single-handedly determine the future of the NBA for the next decade.

This is to determine who will be the face of the West for the next few years; Luka or Ant? Even though Doncic is not 100% due to injury, he’s still showing a lot of heart and is leading the Western Conference in minutes played in the playoffs.

Edwards, meanwhile, is one of the best “playoff risers” we’ve ever seen. A true superstar who keeps rising to the occasion.

This will also be an intriguing battle between Kyrie Irving and Karl-Anthony Towns. Kyrie certainly has a better playoff reputation than Towns, but Towns is doing a good job shedding that “playoff choker” label.

Overall, this series will come down to who has the better bench and which team is feeling fresher. KAT seems to have recovered well from his meniscus injury, while Doncic is just one bad landing away from injury.

The Wolves also have the better bench, and Chris Finch is twice the coach that Jason Kidd is. If nothing goes wrong, Minny should take this one and advance to their first NBA Finals.

Verdict: Timberwolves win 4-2


MVP of Round One

Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Even if he loses/gets hurt in the WCF, Luka Doncic’s 2024 playoff run shouldn’t be forgotten.

Doncic

Years down the line, people will look at stats in the 2024 playoffs compared to the other years of his career and question why Doncic’s stats went down in 2024 compared to the other years of his career.

Yet they will need to realize the context of what Luka had to go through. According to Jared Greenberg of TNT, if this were the regular season, Doncic would have been shut down for “at least two weeks.”

Yet here he is, fresh off of averaging 41.6 minutes, 24.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 8.7 assists in the six games against the Thunder. If the hobbled Doncic can carry the Mavs to a title, he deserves all the respect in the world.




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