Here we go again…For the third straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are preparing for a World Championship showdown. Is anyone really surprised? The 73 win Warriors added a former MVP and one of the top five players in the NBA to their roster with the addition of Kevin Durant, anything short of a Finals appearance would have been a lost season. As for the Cavaliers, they still have a guy named LeBron James on their squad, meaning they had a strong chance of making it to the Finals from day one.
One major difference heading into the 2017 NBA Finals, is the fact that this years matchup has the most potential to be a modern day classic. For one, both teams are healthy going into tonight, a fact that enhances the overall quality of the series. Second, KD and LeBron are meeting in the Finals for the first time since 2012, a matchup that could be legendary if both stars perform. And finally, the tension between these two teams is electric, something I believe will lead to a very entertaining Finals experience. Yet the question still remains, which of these teams will be crowned Champions?
Overview: The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA, with a roster that boasts four All-Stars and a combined three MVP awards. And while it may not show in the win column, the addition of Kevin Durant has made this team better in nearly every aspect of the game. In his first year as a Warrior, the “Slim Reaper” put up 25 points a night, grabbed a career high 8.3 rebounds, served up five assists per game, and shot a career best 53% from the field, and his contributions didn’t end there. Durant held the second highest player efficiency rating this year at 27.6, second to none other than his former teammate Russell Westbrook, while also improving as a defender, finishing the year with the sixth best defensive rating in the NBA. The effects of new-addition KD are obvious, as the 67 win Warriors lead the league in offensive efficiency, points per game, fast break points per game, assists per game, defensive efficiency, and steals/blocks per game. Simply put, GSW is a powerhouse team that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. But are they unstoppable? No. I am a firm believer in the fact that any team can be beaten on any given night, and there is no team better equipped to challenge the Dubs than Cleveland. LeBron is playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging career highs in both assists and rebounds, once again silencing any talks of regression. But “King James” is going to have his hands full this go round, as effectively defending KD will be a grueling yet necessary task. Kevin Love is slowly but surely transforming into the player he was in Minnesota, averaging playoff career highs in field goal percentage, three point percentage, points per game, rebounds per game, and free-throw percentage. Love is a mismatch for Zaza Pachulia on both ends, and if he can outplay Draymond Green for the majority of the series when they are matched up, he will improve the confidence his teammates have in him while simultaneously enhancing the chance the Cavs have to win. As for “Chef” Curry and Kyrie Irving’s matchup, unless Irving checks the GSW guard with physical play and doesn’t allow Curry to get open off of screens, there is a good chance the two-time MVP goes off and lights up Cleveland this series.
- Draymond Green has been talking a lot this past week, expect him to back it up.
- If played meaningful minutes, Iman Shumpert could be a crucial piece to Cleveland’s success with his defense.
- Iguodala has been struggling throughout the entirety of the Playoffs, I don’t see this changing as he is not 100% healthy.
- Once again, J.R. Swish is going to need to step up on both sides of the ball in this series.
- The me memory of last years Finals defeat should play a role in firing up the Warriors.
X-Factor for Cleveland: Tristan Thompson is going to need to take advantage of the relatively weak front court of the Warriors and refused to be bullied by Draymond Green on the boards.
X-Factor for Golden State: Klay Thompson has struggled throughout this postseason, he will need to regain his confidence and consistent stroke if he hopes to further increase GSW’s chance at redemption.
Prediction: Golden State Warriors in seven games…don’t @ me.