• Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!

    The Conference Finals are underway and have been as competitive and exciting as one could expect.  Before I get into the two series at hand right now, I have to comment on the fact that the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets and got sent home before even meeting the Lakers in the playoffs.  Doc Rivers has blown quite a few series leads as head coach, and the Clippers did not look motivated during that Game 7 like how the Nuggets did.

    The Heat and Celtics have played an overtime game and two of the three games finished within five points.  Gordon Hayward returned for Game 3 and helped the Celtics close their deficit to 2-1.  The Celtics are a better team when Hayward is on the court, so his return is huge.  After a brutal Game 2 loss where the Celtics had a big lead, some believed the series was nearly over as the Celtics were imploding.  Marcus Smart was heard screaming and throwing things in the locker room after the game and it turns out that he was arguing with Jaylen Brown. However, Brad Stevens met with a group of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Smart and Brown late that night and sorted out the issues.  They came together in Game 3 and looked like a whole new team.  This series could easily go seven games if the Celtics come out playing how they played in Game 3.

    The Lakers and Nuggets series could have been evened up at one game apiece, but Anthony Davis had something to say about that.  He drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the face of Nikola Jokic to win Game 2 after it seemed like the Nuggets were going to steal the win.  The Lakers are now up 2-0 and have full control of the series.  Although the Nuggets may put up a fight and win a game or two, the Lakers are likely going to be waiting to see which one of the Heat or Celtics they will be playing in the NBA Finals.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    Eastern Conference Finals – Celtics vs. Heat (Heat lead 2-1)

    Game 4- Wednesday at 8:30 PM ET

    Game 5- Friday at 8:30 PM ET

    Game 6- Sunday at 7:30 PM ET (if necessary)

    Western Conference Finals- Nuggets vs. Lakers (Lakers lead 2-0)

    Game 3- Tuesday at 9 PM ET

    Game 4- Thursday at 9 PM ET

    Game 5- Saturday at 9 PM ET (if necessary)

    Injury/Covid Report

    This will be the first ever blank injury report on The Week Ahead.  All four teams are healthy now that Gordon Hayward is back and they are all playing with their best rotations on the floor.

    Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!

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