The NBA Finals gets underway tonight with a rematch of last year’s final series – GoldenState vs. Cleveland. As we all know, Golden State is coming off statistically the best regular season ever while Cleveland wants to show that last year’s loss was just a result of having too many injuries.
Here are our thoughts on the series. Let us know who you agree with!
Kras Prediction: Golden State in 6
After watching how the Warriors kept their cool against the Thunder and came back from the 3-1 deficit it is hard to believe that they won’t be the team to beat again this year. All things considered, I don’t think it will be a 4 game series sweep either. Cleveland has the potential to win some games but I don’t think they have what it takes to overcome Splash Bros. & Co. I believe that, with the shooting ability of Steph and Klay, the well-rounded play of Draymond and the rest of the complementing forces of Golden State, it will be too much for Cleveland and Golden State will take the series. In order for Cleveland to have a chance to win I think that they will need to have K-Love average around 20 pts for the series. Love will have to be effective from 3-point range in order to compete. I also think that Dellavedova will have to return to his playoff form from last year. Lebron will have to be vintage Lebron while Kyrie will have his hands full with whoever he is tasked with guarding. In order for Cleveland to win this series they will have to find a way to step up their defense. The Cavs need to make sure that Steph and Klay have zero room to work with on the floor and force them to take well guarded shots or move the ball and have the rest of the Warriors beat them.
Overall, I don’t think Cleveland will be able to run up and down the floor or that their defense is stifling enough to be able to put Steph and Klay in a box for 7 games. I think it will be a competitive series that will go 6 games and will inevitably be won by the defending NBA champs. Anything short of winning it all will be a waste of a 73 win regular season.
Nate Leer Prediction: Cleveland in 7
While I believe that Golden State is better coached, better constructed and a better collection of talent, I have to bet on LeBron. I do believe the line of thinking that this will be a statement series for LBJ to show that he is still the best basketball player on the planet. I like Steph – a deserving multiple MVP – and am a big fan of Klay and Draymond but none can do as many things as LeBron. In some ways this match-up reminds me of Russell vs. Wilt or young LeBron vs. Kobe – the impact of Golden State and particularly Steph (like Wilt and young LeBron) on the league is undeniable but the better all-around player and accomplished vet tends to hold sway until their body breaks down. Maybe Golden State proves me wrong and solidifies their place as a modern dynasty but I think LeBron has just enough around him to pull off the upset.
As to how it will happen, I agree with Kras that K-Love has to average about 20 a game and I would add that he needs to be a force on the glass as well. However, I think those things are possible for a player that Golden State may have trouble matching up with. Plus, Kyrie is the type of super-quick scorer/play-maker that gave Golden State trouble in the last series (Westbrook). Tristan Thompson could be a physical presence that can really push back against Draymond – literally and figuratively. Steven Adams was able to do some work against Golden State, particularly when Bogut was sitting. Tristan is not as long as Adams but is even stronger and more rugged. Another key for Cleveland is JR Smith. If he is willing to play inspired D for stretches – I know it seems crazy but he has in the past – and be another shooter and scorer, it would be a huge boost to Cleveland. This may sound like a lot of things that need to go well but that is what it takes to win a crucial series. Here’s hoping Love, Irving and the rest of the Cleveland line-up put on their big boy pants and support LBJ’s drive toward a championship for Cleveland.