Thibodeau Makes NBA Finals Prediction

A lot can happen between now and next June, but Tom Thibodeau sees an early favorite in each conference

Zach Gelb
July 09, 2019 - 10:38 am
Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks Boston Celtics

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As the free-agent whirlwind continues, Tom Thibodeau dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss the state of the NBA heading into the 2019-20 season.

“With Kevin leaving (Golden State) and Klay being injured, it opened up the door in the West, and of course the same thing holds true in the East,” Thibodeau told Zach Gelb, who was filling in as host of Reiter Than You. “With Kawhi leaving Toronto, I think people feel there’s an opportunity at the top, so people are going for it.”

With Leonard in L.A., Thibodeau expects the Bucks to reach the NBA Finals. Milwaukee led Toronto 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals before losing four straight, including three games by six points.

“In the East, I like Milwaukee,” Thibodeau said. “They came out of their situation about as well as you could. They had a number of free agents. Re-signing Lopez was huge, and getting the Middleton thing done was huge for them. They did lose Brogdon, but I think they came out of that great with the trade value that they received, and I liked the pick-up of Wes Matthews. He fits their system perfectly. Adding Robin Lopez was huge for them. They have a lot to build off of. When you look at their lineup, they’re in a really good position and I think they can build off last year.”

Of course, it helps having Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season.

“When you have a guy like Giannis and you watch the strides that he makes each year, it’s hard to say where he’ll be next year,” Thibodeau said. “But that’s a 60-win team that’s basically been kept intact. If Wes Matthews starts, I don’t think they skip a beat.”

In the West, meanwhile, Thibodeau likes the Clippers even though they’ll be without Paul George (shoulder) to begin the season.

“If they can navigate that until he gets back, I like their depth,” Thibodeau said. “I like the make-up of their team. I think it’s going to be a terrific defensive team. The guy that I think everyone has to watch out for is Iguodala. If he gets bought out, everyone will be racing to sign him. If he ends up with the Clippers, that would be a perfect fit for him. That, I think, would put them over the top.”

Click below to listen to Thibodeau’s interview in its entirety.