The NBA Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers gets underway tonight at Oracle Arena in Oakland. In his sixth straight Finals appearance, LeBron James will see if he can bring a championship to Cleveland before the tornado that is the 2016 Republican National Convention hits the shores of Lake Erie in mid-July. On the other side of the ball, Golden State and their out-of-this-world three-point shooting from Steph Curry and co. look to be the first to repeat as NBA Champions since LeBron did so with the Heat in 2012 and 2013.
On Monday night, the Warriors barely squeaked by the Oklahoma City Thunder with their victory in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and the Cavaliers were exposed when they journeyed across the border to Ontario, Canada last week. So, both teams have their flaws, but Cleveland’s flaws seem to be more detrimental than Golden State’s.
Kevin Love and his lack of defensive ability will be problematic for the Cavaliers. He is not quick enough to close-in on the Warriors’ sharp shooters and needs to be on the bench in the fourth quarter. The always pesky Matthew Dellavedova, and not Kyrie Irving, could be Cleveland’s go-to point guard when looking to defend Curry. In the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder were physical with the MVP point guard and the Cavaliers will need to do the same if they want to knock Curry off his game.
That means if the Cavaliers want to be competent on the defensive side of the ball, they need to sacrifice their second and third best scoring options for a point guard averaging 4.4 PPG in the playoffs and someone like Channing Frye who is averaging 8.6 PPG in the playoffs. Even more troublesome is that the move will invite Cleveland’s J.R. Smith to try and get into a gunslinging match with Golden State’s three-point shooters. The Cavaliers better hope that invitation gets lost in the mail. Like, really lost.
I expect Draymond Green to be trash-talking and Andre Iguadala to be guarding LeBron James all throughout the series and if we’re lucky we might even see a little scuffle between these two ego-maniacs.
I think LeBron knows how much this series means. LeBron’s first season with the Heat in 2011, he lost in the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks because he didn’t know how to gel with his new team. We saw that repeated last year in LeBron’s first year back with the Cavaliers. This is a new Cavaliers team from what we saw last year, but they are going against a whole different beast in the 73-win Golden State Warriors.
The Cavaliers will win one behind an incredible performance from LeBron, but this series and this season belongs to the Warriors. Golden State in 5.