History and Legacies are at stake in this match-up—the 73 win Golden State Warriors versus the self-proclaimed King and his Cavaliers. MVP past versus MVP present and a rematch of last season’s memorable NBA Finals. Something simply has to give as the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be hoisted once more but will it be by the reigning, defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors or the championship starved Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Golden State Warriors stared defeat in the eyes during Games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and prevailed; gaining necessary momentum along the way. If not for Klay Thompson’s 41 point performance on 11 made 3’s during game 6 the greatest season that any team has had in the NBA would have come to an end. That game 6 was followed by the heroic game 7 which saw Stephen Curry carry his team in the 4th quarter to victory. Despite the faults of the Oklahoma City Thunder, that series was WON by the Warriors and their outstanding backcourt; which is perhaps the greatest ever seen.
However Cleveland, and rightfully so, was able to take another path.
Did the Cavaliers hit their peak at the right time?
It sure seems that way! Their quest to return to the NBA Finals offered little resistance.
The Cavaliers steamrolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs and only saw adversity with two losses coming at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. The Basketball Gods highlighted the strengths of the Cavaliers throughout which included routing the inept Atlanta Hawks with a three-point barrage for the ages. The Detroit Piston put up a tough fight in the first round but failed to close as the Cavaliers were able to take control in late game situations during the eventual four game sweep.
The supporting cast for LeBron James has been nothing short of spectacular during this playoff run. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have stood tall in this incarnation of the “Big Three”; something that was missing during last season’s playoff run. Surrounded by the three-point shooting of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Channing Frye, who finally found his shot since leaving Orlando, the Cavaliers are ready to match shot for shot the three-point prowess of the Warriors.
Cleveland’s issues lie in their defensive woes in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love; two players who will be guarding the most important players in the Golden State starting lineup. The effort of Cleveland is what will really be on the eyes of many, and Tyronn Lue will have to out coach Steve Kerr.
In terms of coaching experience, Lue will have a disadvantage. However, Lue has made his players work together to form an unstoppable offensive machine. Both Kerr and Lue were players under Phil Jackson, so they both have some sort of Finals experience
This time there will be no excuses. Despite being surrounded by the walking wounded during last season’s NBA Finals LeBron James performed at a level of greatness not seen in recent memory. This time he has more help but at what cost.
The thought may be considered the thought of the minority but the performance of James last season was more equipped to defeat the Warriors than any match-up this season. Why you ask? Simple put, a dominate James is more lethal than a passive one, one who doesn’t have to dominate due to the perception of “help” in Irving and Love.
Home court will reign supreme as the Warriors will continue to ride their wave of momentum on the way to successfully defending their NBA Championship in 7 hard-fought games. LeBron James will fall to 2-5 in the NBA Finals and the once and future king will then be in the form of one Stephen Curry.
Hardwood Your Thoughts?
The Cavaliers will win this Series because they have more firepower and a focused LeBron James. It may be a wild one.
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Peter Saclarides: Golden State in Seven Games (Klay Thompson as Finals MVP)
Hussein Murray: Golden State in Five Games (Stephen Curry as Finals MVP)
Cortez Paul: Cavaliers in Six Games
G.R. Bakers: Cavaliers in Six Games
Joshua Saunders: Cavaliers in Seven Games
Nick Ziegler: Golden State in Six Games
Aidan Setter: Cavaliers in Six Games
Kenneth Teape: Golden State in Seven Games