This NBA Finals is shaping up to be a doozy. Both teams feature first-year coaches, out-of-this-world superstar talent and a fantastic supporting cast that has been nothing short of electric in these NBA Playoffs. If you didn’t get the hint before, now is the time to go grab your popcorn.
Starting June 4th, the Golden State Warriors will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in a best of seven fight to the death. If you want to look at how each of these teams got here, you don’t have to look further than the superstars that propelled them to this point. Stephen Curry, the league MVP this year, has been nothing short of spectacular, averaging 29.2 points per game in these playoffs with 73 made three pointers in just 15 games. LeBron isn’t far behind in the scoring department, averaging 27.6 points per game and 8.3 assists per game. After struggling shooting the ball in the quarterfinals against Chicago, James was in the sweep of Atlanta averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists per contest. This is what you expect these guys to do: be great. But it’s been the lesser components who have given each team the extra lift. For the Warriors, how about Bogut’s defense on Howard? How about Iguodala’s defense on Harden in Game 5, forcing him to turn the ball over an NBA Playoff record 13 times. What about Harrison Barnes’s timely 24 points to seal the deal over the persistent Rockets? For Cleveland, how about Dellevadova’s secondary playmaking? How about Timofay Mozgov’s evolution as a big man as opposed to a big man? How about J.R Smith’s shot creation, especially in Game 1 against Atlanta, where he dropped 28? Without these pieces, we would be looking at a different Finals matchup, there’s no doubt.
When you dissect the beginning of this series, there are more concerns for Golden State than there are for Cleveland. Both teams split the season series 1-1, but Golden State is winded. It is unknown how long Klay Thompson will be out for if he does miss any time with a concussion he sustained from a Trevor Ariza knee to the right side of his head. However, Golden State is rich with ready-to-play guards. Iguodala is an all-defensive specialist who can contribute on the offensive end with his playmaking ability. Barbosa and Livingston will assume bigger roles if that’s the case, but both are electric. Barbosa is a blur in the open court and Livingston is a post-up guard with excellent touch on the fadeaway. So will depth be an issue? Probably not, but they do need their All-Star shooting guard to get healthy ASAP. As for the Cavs, they have a perfect bill of health fresh off a sweep of the NBA’s second best team. They stumbled upon a bit of luck with the injuries that hit Atlanta, but make no mistake this is a team ready to win. This is LeBron’s fifth straight NBA Finals and he wants to be back on top, whatever the costs. He faces a challenge with Golden State’s number one defense. They have many guys who can guard him and switch if need be. LeBron has to be significantly better than Chicago LeBron if he wants to win it all. We all saw how he played against Chicago. The supporting cast has to be great as well. No boneheaded plays from J.R. No cold streaks from James Jones. They have to tick perfectly and I mean perfectly.
I don’t think Cleveland can do it though. They don’t have enough. Maybe that’s why LeBron has an option for year 2 on his contract. Curry is on top of the world. He’s the face of Under Armor. He’s the baby faced assassin. He has the cutest daughter in the entire world. He’s the best player in the entire world and he has the hardware to prove it. Golden State has the Coach of the Year. They have the MVP. They have two All Defensive honorees this year (Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut). I’ve never seen a team so well prepared to face LBJ. LeBron will put up a fight, but Cleveland needs more juice to beat the West. It’s been the theme all year long and will end that way with a fairy tale ending for Dubnation!!!
Cleveland has been complacent, coasting to the NBA Finals. The struggle to the top for Golden State gives them a grit and a subsequent edge. They don’t like to lose. Which is exactly why they won’t.
Prediction: Golden State in 6