You’ve already figured out which NBA star you are and you know the NBA Finals are upon us and that we’re getting a rematch between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unlike last year, however, both teams are at full-strength and at the top of their games. The ‘Dubs won in six last season as a Cavs roster depleted by injuries just couldn’t keep up.
This time, there will be no excuses. This time, there will be no “what ifs.” This time, we have two heavyweight teams duking it out for supremacy. THIS IS SPARTA!
Can you tell how excited we are? Here are the previews and predictions for the NBA Finals from our NBA Radio hosts:
Doric Sam: This is the series I’ve been waiting for all throughout the playoffs. The Cavs ran through the Eastern Conference with ease and even though we just got an outstanding Western Conference Final between the Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, the intrigue of this series is way more exciting.
Golden State handled Cleveland fairly easily in two regular-season meetings, but this isn’t the same Cleveland team. Coach Tyronn Lue took over mid-season for David Blatt and revamped the Cavs’ offense, which has been firing on all cylinders throughout the postseason. The Cavs are playing faster, jacking up more threes and playing strong defense. Sound familiar? Cleveland has basically morphed into Golden State, and it’s for the better. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and even Channing Frye have all seen a resurgence under Lue and in-turn have taken the pressure off LeBron James. It’s scary when the Cavs can win by 20 points or more and ‘Bron ‘Bron doesn’t have to drop 30+.
The Warriors are coming off a very physical seven-game series with the Thunder after having to claw their way back from a 3-1 deficit, and that might play a factor in their ability to keep up with the Cavs. But if Games 6 and 7 of that series were any indications, this is a special team. Golden State staved off elimination with an 11-three-pointer performance from Klay Thompson and then won the deciding game on the heroics of back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry. They won an NBA-record 73 games not because the rest of the league sucks, but because they are that much better than everyone else. The conference final showed the Warriors can overcome adversity, now the NBA Final will determine whether that adversity will continue to drive them towards greatness.
Both Love and Irving missed last year’s Finals, putting the burden squarely on James’ shoulders. He did all he could, but the depth of the Warriors was too much to overcome. It’ll be interesting to see not only how Love and Irving perform on the biggest stage, but also how much James trusts them. He might decide to go into “god-mode” and do it all himself. Thanks to Oklahoma City, Cleveland now has a blueprint to defend Golden State, but do they have the personnel to really stifle the sharpshooting ‘Dubs? The Thunder did, but the Warriors still found a way to win. The Warriors will find a way.
Prediction: Warriors in 7.
Brian Lauvray: This series is everything an NBA fan could want. Narrative-wise? Revenge for the Cavaliers and the further cementing of LeBron James’ legacy as the greatest basketball player since MJ retired. In addition to that there’s the tired, but still true aspect of Cleveland’s championship-starved fan base. Can LeBron deliver the city of Cleveland to the promised land? For the Warriors, well, Stephen Curry and Co. can further cement their legacy as the greatest team ever after eclipsing the record for wins in a season and a championship would be the cherry on top of all of that.
It may be the contrarian in me but I have Cleveland taking this series in six. Flying in the face of conventional wisdom to go with the team that just won 73 games in 82 tries (to say nothing of ignoring what our NBA Radio experts are saying); I see the Cavs taking this. Say all you want about a “watered down” Eastern Conference or that the Cavs don’t have a chance. This Cleveland team has been playing at a different level in the playoffs against heightened competition. They endured the best that the Detroit Pistons gave them in a much closer series than the “4-0” gives credit too. Then they dismantled the Atlanta Hawks and outclassed the Toronto Raptors. All without Cleveland leaning on LeBron to go to 11. This Cleveland team is playing as a team on defense and particularly on offense. If the Warriors slow down Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, whomever, so be it, they’ll then have to slow down LeBron. I expect some very high-scoring affairs and I expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Prediction: Cavaliers in 6.
Catch every game of the NBA Finals on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
Tags:cleveland cavaliersgolden state warriorskevin loveklay thompsonkyrie irvinglebron jamesnbanba finalsstephen currytyronn lue
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