The 2023 NBA Playoffs are approaching the conference finals with the second round coming to a close. We could get a rare NBA Finals without LeBron James or Stephen Curry, though one of those superstars will at least be in the West finals. On the East side, we have more familiar names except the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who have already been bounced.
We’ll go over which teams have reached the conference finals in the East and West.
Eastern Conference Finals
Jayson Tatum delivered an all-time great performance in Game 7 against the 76ers to help the Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Awaiting Boston is a familiar opponent in the Heat, who played the Celtics in last year’s conference finals as well. This time, the Celtics have homecourt advantage and are the much deeper team. Tatum is looking like a superstar again, which should help the Celtics withstand Jimmy Butler’s insane playoff run.
The Heat took out the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round 4-1 before eliminating the New York Knicks 4-2 in the second round to get back to the conference finals. Miami was eliminated at this stage in Game 7 last year, and could get a rematch with the Celtics depending on what happens between Boston and Philadelphia in Game 7 Sunday. The Heat have been road warriors in this postseason and will be hoping to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since the 2020 Orlando bubble.
Western Conference Finals
The Nuggets defeated the Timberwolves 4-1 in the first round and took care of the Suns 4-2 in the second round to make the conference finals. This is the second time the Nuggets have made the conference finals in the Nikola Jokic era, previously making this round in the 2020 Orlando bubble. Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will hope to take at least one more step and get the No. 1 seed Nuggets to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers took out the defending champions Golden State Warriors in the second round to make the conference finals, winning the series in six games as they did in the opening round against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers join the Heat as teams to make the conference finals from the play-in tournament, and are one series away from making the Finals.