As one of the most surprising postseasons in recent NBA history continues, can two play-in tournament teams shock the basketball world again in the conference finals?
The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, No. 7 and No. 8 seeds, respectively, got here with impressive six-game series wins in the second round. The Lakers took down the defending champion Golden State Warriors behind elite play from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, while the Heat rode the playoff heroics of Jimmy Butler against the New York Knicks.
But things are about to get much tougher.
L.A. faces two-time Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic and the top-seeded Denver Nuggets — Game 1 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) — while Miami meets a familiar foe in the second-seeded Boston Celtics in a rematch of last season’s thrilling seven-game Eastern Conference finals.
Who will reach the Finals? Our NBA experts make their predictions.
Note: Experts’ picks for the Celtics-Heat series will be unveiled on Tuesday.
MORE: Conf. finals schedule and news | Offseason guides
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Kendra Andrews: Nuggets in 6
Jerry Bembry: Nuggets in 7
Omar Raja: Nuggets in 7
Nick DePaula: Nuggets in 6
Nick Friedell: Nuggets in 7
Israel Gutierrez: Lakers in 7
Tim Legler: Nuggets in 7
Andrew Lopez: Nuggets in 6
Tim MacMahon: Nuggets in 7
Bobby Marks: Nuggets in 7
Dave McMenamin: Lakers in 6
Kevin Pelton: Nuggets in 7
Omar Raja: Lakers in 7
Ramona Shelburne: Lakers in 6
André Snellings: Lakers in 7
Marc Spears: Lakers in 7
Ohm Youngmisuk: Nuggets in 7
Final tally: Nuggets 11, Lakers 6.
This story originally appeared on ESPN