NB: Cavaliers in 6. A large part of me believes that the Warriors will sweep the Cavs and go fo’ fo’ fo’ fo’. Golden State obviously just laid waste to the West after destroying the league all season. They employ not one, not two, not three, but FOUR star players, including the last three MVP Award Winners (Durant in 2014, Curry in 2015 and 2016). The Dubs also have a huge chip on their shoulder after blowing the Finals last year after winning 73 games. You can look at the 2014 Spurs and and 2012 Heat as prime examples of teams going back to the Finals and winning the year after losing. Vegas also has the Warriors as heavy favorites (-255) and they didn’t get to build fancy hotels all over town by being wrong about these things.
Having said all of that, there is just something watching this Cavs team on and off the court this postseason which really scares me. Led by LeBron James, they seem to have a supreme confidence that they can wipe anyone off the floor. They embarrassed both Boston and Toronto, who were allegedly their toughest competition in the East. The Cavs want the Warriors again. They want to embarrass them. They want to show KD that he is soft for signing there. Cleveland lives to troll. Just look at Kyrie here. Does that look like a team that is worried? Are they scared of the mighty Warriors? No and No.
As I said before, super teams don’t have a history of winning in their first year, especially considering they are still without their head coach. The Cavs are ready for them and it’s going to be a dogfight out there every game. The Warriors have a perfectly assembled roster for modern basketball aside from one thing. They don’t have LeBron James. That will be the difference in the series and Cleveland wins it on their home court this time.
JC: Golden State in 6. My sincere hope for this NBA Finals is that it causes fans to forget about the many, many blowouts that led to this clearly inevitable round three between the Cavaliers and Warriors. Not that I hated the blowouts necessarily, since there is something fascinating about two teams that are just so much better than their peers, but the rest of the NBA world seems like they might disagree. Even better is the fact that everyone (minus Steve Kerr) is healthy, rested and ready. The trash talk has already begun. And despite some slight denial by the King as to the existence of this rivalry, I would tend to agree with Tyronn Lue when he says this Finals is akin to the Celtics-Lakers clashes.
LeBron James has his legacy already, but why not add to the mythology with a new test against his contemporary Kevin Durant on the Warriors. Why not see what new gear LeBron can find? And while we’re at it, who knows if we may see a better point guard duel than Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving. These two are peaking right now, clearly enjoying every minute of the playoffs. And while they won’t spend a significant amount of time guarding each other, there will be moments you can easily already picture. Moments when Irving will deliver a devastating crossover to shake Curry, diving towards the rim for an unbelievable finish around Draymond Green’s help defense. And then two seconds later, Curry with the quickest of releases over Irving for a dagger three that will send Oracle Arena into a frenzy.
However, aside from those four stars, the deciding factors will be Kevin Love and Draymond Green. The question is whether Love can handle being switched onto Curry, Klay, or Durant and still contribute on the offensive end with his patented outlet passes and corner threes versus whether Green can avoid being ejected for something stupid and maintain his lethal defense. Whoever is more effective, whoever quietly (or not so quietly in Green’s case) warps the game just enough, will be the unsung hero over these Finals. Durant, Curry, Irving, and LeBron contribute more loudly and more clearly, but Love and Green help enable their team to go. And with Green out for redemption after this disastrous suspension last year, I would count on him making the most of the opportunity.
-Nick Bair & Jordan Curet
Photo Credit: ABC