The NBA Playoffs have reached the Conference Finals and the remaining quartet of teams are quite surprising. We are left with Phoenix and the Los Angeles Clippers out of the West. Out of the East we have Milwaukee and Atlanta.

No Lebron. No Curry. No Durant. Even without the cast of regulars we have seen in the Finals over the past decade, there are still plenty of storylines.

Can Phoenix win it all only a few seasons removed from being one of the worst teams in the Association? Can the Clippers finally win a title? Can Milwaukee get out of its own way to make it to the Finals? Can Atlanta shock the NBA World as a five seed?

A few of these questions will be answered in the upcoming week.NBA Final Four

Phoenix is already off to a 2-0 series lead over the Clippers in the West. The Suns are led by young stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Phoenix has improved dramatically over the past two seasons and the addition of veteran Chris Paul may be the final piece to put them over the top. The Clippers are without their best player, Kawhi Leonard, in this series due to a knee injury.

How Giannis Antetokounmpo produces for Milwaukee will be the key for the Bucks holding off upstart Atlanta. Giannis has past playoff demons to fight off. The Hawks, led by Trae Young, have the ‘playing on house money’ attitude going and could easily surprise Milwaukee.

I predict a Phoenix/Milwaukee final and will close with a Did You Know. Did you know that Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the first round draft pick of Milwaukee thanks to a coin flip win over Phoenix? Yes, there was not a draft lottery back in those days and the Bucks ended up winning the flip.

NBA Playoff Injuries

One reason there have been numerous surprises in the this year’s NBA Playoffs is that a number of teams have suffered injuries to key players throughout the regular season and in the playoffs.

The players are blaming the compressed schedule and offseason for the 2020-21 season.

The list of players missing playoff games include Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Jamal Murray, Joel Embid, Donovan Mitchell, Anthony Davis, and Mike Conley.

After last season’s bubble during the summer months, the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat had 51 days of an offseason. That is about half an offseason, and they had to play a compressed regular season. One should have known that starting this past season so soon and compressing it would lead to injuries. But owners wanted the revenue from a nearly-full season of 72 games and the players wanted their money.

The playoffs should be the time to watch the NBA’s top stars excel. Instead, many have found themselves on the injured list. It’s not a good look for the league.

Giannis Antetokounmpo