The Finals rematch we were all expecting is officially here. The Warriors will face the Cavaliers as they look to get revenge for blowing a 3-1 lead in last year’s matchup. This is the third straight year these teams will meet in the Finals, setting an NBA record. It’s crazy to me that in all of the years that the NBA has been around, the same two teams haven’t met more that two years in a row.
Golden State swept their way through the West, winning 12 straight playoff games and counting. They look like the unstoppable force everyone thought they would be after the signing of Kevin Durant, and they haven’t shown many signs of slowing down. The Cavs almost swept their way to the Finals as well, but they ended up dropping one game to the Celtics in the Conference Finals. Both teams are playing at a high level right now with little room to improve. Here is how each team can win the Finals:
The combination of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green has proved to be extremely lethal (duh). When the big four has been healthy this season they have won 16 straight games (including playoffs), dating back to February 4th. The Warriors will get 25+ from Curry and Durant, I feel like that’s a given. But if Klay Thompson can get hot, this is going to be a quick series because that will allow Golden State to have an answer for everything Cleveland wants to throw at them. He is only averaging 14.5 ppg this post-season. Everyone who has watched Thompson play knows he can be better than he has been recently, and I have a feeling he’ll get there. He has been known to step up on the biggest stage. Outside of their main guys, I look at Andre Iguodala as a key factor in this series. He was one of the main contributors in their last two playoff runs, and if he can step up his play from where he’s at now I think it’ll be a lock for the Warriors. They have all of the tools to win this series easily.
The Cav’s showed us everything we expected from them this post-season. LeBron did what he does best, and that is completely dominating the Eastern Conference. They swept their first two opponents, then ended up dropping that one game against the Celtics in the ECF. Statistically, this might be LeBron’s best post-season of his career, which feels crazy to even type. He’s averaging 32.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game while putting up postseason career highs in FG% (56.6%) and 3PT% (42.1%). Other than game three of the ECF he has been the best player on any team during this playoff run. We know what we’re going to see from him, but the one guy who can make or break this series for Cleveland is Kevin Love. If he can continue his hot streak (22.6 ppg in the ECF), that will take so much pressure off of the shoulders of both LeBron and Kyrie, who have been monsters recently. In all of their wins this season, Love averaged 20.8 ppg, opposed to the 15.5 ppg he averaged in their losses. His play will be vital to if Cleveland even stands a chance against the Warriors. I also expect to see a lot more of Kyle Korver this series, who the Cavs acquired specifically to try and keep up with Golden State’s ability to shoot the three. I’m not saying he’s going to average 20 points a game, but he has the ability to leave a mark on this series if he’s shooting well. The Cav’s were the best 3 point shooting team in the league this season, and they’re going to have to continue to be lights out against GSW.
Warriors (1) vs. Cavaliers (2)
Both teams are going up against the best opponent they’ve seen all post-season. So who wins this series? I am going to go with Warriors in five. They have shown me too much all year to think otherwise. They’ve been the best offensive team in the league while also maintaining a top defense. I don’t feel like the Cav’s have the weapons to slow these guys down. They are a great defensive team, but I want to focus on game four of the Eastern Conference Finals for a minute. The Cav’s came out slow but were able to recover by playing good defense against a bunch of bums (in comparison to Golden State) and getting a huge burst from Kyrie Irving. They won’t be able to recover like that against the Warriors if they get down early. They won’t give you any sort of chance to get back into the game. I’ve seen the Cav’s offense fall asleep for stretches like that a few times during these playoffs (rounds one & three), and if that trend continues during the Finals their odds aren’t great. GSW is also going to have a week of rest on the Cavs, which I think is going to be more of a factor than people are playing it out to be.
Well, there you have it. The NBA season is officially winding down and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with myself when it ends. Pray for me.
Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)