Karl-Anthony Towns, Al Horford, NBA
Karl-Anthony Towns (left) and Al Horford (right) are the only players of Latino descent left in this year's NBA playoffs Via rappler.com/Reuters

SEATTLE - And then there were four. This week, the NBA Conference Finals tip off with two interesting matchups between the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers in the East, and the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks in the West.

Both series will be packed with stars, including two Latinos that have been key contributors to their team's hopes during this playoff run.

In the Eastern Conference, Al Horford has stepped up for the Celtics after Kristaps Porzingis went down with an injury earlier this month. After coming off the bench in the first four games of their first round matchup against the Miami Heat, Horford has been the team's starting big man sine May 1 and has averaged just a little over 30 minutes per game since.

The 37-year-old veteran really came alive during the Celtics' closeout win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 15. He had a game for the ages, scoring 22 points on 53% shooting from the field, grabbing 15 boards, assisting five times and adding three blocks and one steal.

He became the first player in NBA history with 20+ points, 15+ rebounds, 5+ three-pointers made and 3+ blocks in a playoff game. It also made him the third player in NBA playoff history with that stat line at age 37 or older, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.

With Porzingis still out, Horford will need to continue his great form if the Celtics want to return to the NBA Finals. Last year, he started all seven games against the Heat in the ECF but scored double-digit points just once.

The last time the Celtics made it out of the East (2022), Horford contributed with 9.8 PPG and 10 RPG in the series against the Heat (three games with double-digit points).

Similarly, the Timberwolves will need four-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns to have a great series if they want to advance to their first-ever NBA Finals.

Towns has been able to maintain his career average in the 27 playoff games he has played since making his NBA debut in 2015, but his points per game drop by more than four units when the lights shine brightest.

He has a career-average of 22.9 PPG in the regular season but that number goes down to 18.7 PPG in the playoffs. 'KAT' has scored 30+ points only once in his playoff career.

In the series against the defending champions Denver Nuggets, Towns was limited to 15 points or less in three of the seven games. In playoff games in which Towns scores 15 or less points, the Timberwolves have a 2-8 record.

Before the Wolves dropped three games in a row against the Nuggets, Towns was playing lights out. In the six games prior to the losing streak, Towns was averaging 20 points and nine boards a game while shooting at a clip of 57% from the field and 53% from deep.

One of the things 'KAT' will need to work on during the series against Dallas is his ability to stay out of foul trouble, which impacts his minutes played. In 27 career playoff games, Towns has had at least four fouls called on him 17 times, including nine games with five or more.

According to DraftKings, both Celtics and Wolves enter the series as the favorites to advance to the NBA Finals. The sportsbook gives Boston a -900 line while the Wolves are -170 to reach the championship series for the first time.

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