Here we go again folks. Strap in, get comfy and make yourself a Hot Pocket because we get Dubs-Cavs Part Three. Coming off the heels of a downright terrible playoffs, we are once again rewarded with a star-studded and incredibly enticing Finals. Cleveland took it last year (albeit without Draymond Green and a hurt Curry) and Golden State taking it the year before (against a Love and Kyrieless Cavs). This year promises to be an absolute bloodbath with both Cleveland and Golden State finally at full strength and the addition of Kevin Durant has been all it promised to be.
So today kids, let’s map this series out. This is easily one of the hyped matchups in recent memory so let’s not get swept away by it and lay out the keys, matchups to watch and the most official predictions you will ever read.
So let’s hop to it.
Keys to the Series
This series is without a doubt going to be one of the most evenly matched Finals of all time. 7 total All-Stars and 3 MVPs highlight both of the challengers this year in arguably the greatest showcase of the NBA’s talent on the big stage ever. Any little advantage could crack this series wide open. Both Golden State and Cleveland have x-factors that could mean the difference of win and loss.
For Golden State, this whole series rests on their ability to slow down LeBron James. He’s has been on a whole different dimension this entire playoffs rocking 32.5 points, 7.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per contest. Yeah, Cleveland was on easy street for nearly the entire playoffs but LeBron simply made it look even easier.
Stopping or even just slowing LeBron down could mean victory for Golden State as no one else against them has transcended to another wavelength of basketball greatness. Golden State has flashed this resilience in the past with Andre Iguodala winning Finals MVP in 2015 because he was simply able to slow down LeBron but they lack a true top-tier defender on their roster.
As good as LeBron was in that 2015 playoffs, he’s coming into this Finals with a metric ton of steam and equally capable teammates. Though it doesn’t rest entirely on his shoulders, Kevin Durant will lining up against LeBron for the majority of the Finals. KD has always been a strong defensive player but far from the level needed to stand up to James so this means a lot lies on the addition of Durant for Golden State to pull off a potential Finals win. But with Iguodala and Draymond Green to aid Durant’s ultimatum, the possibility is there.
On Cleveland’s side of the fence, a great deal of pressure is set on the talent of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Both has been putting on strong showings this entire playoffs but in order to push past a team with 4 All-Stars, they will almost need to be legendary.
LeBron has been carrying this team for much of this year’s playoffs per usual but even his astral form isn’t enough to get past Golden State alone, and it goes without saying he is going to need even more help after the Dubs added a certain someone in the offseason. Both were here to be the King’s butlers but right now in the face of a team with a slew of All-NBA level players, they will absolutely have to chip in more than they have ever had.
Matchups to Watch
As said about twenty times now, this Finals is massively talented. With this, the talent just elevates the stakes of matchups. One lost matchup could spell complete and total disaster for either team. So here’s the 3 most important matchups to watch in this year’s Finals
Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry
This is undeniably one of the most exciting point guard duels in the recent history and on the biggest stage, the hype is basically through the roof. Both stars are and always have been offensive juggernauts and this matchup really comes down to their defense and the ability best the other man. Both are below average defenders but either one can spark an offense to victory. We must never forget The Shot in last year’s finals but whether Curry or Kyrie can pull away from each other could lead their respective team to a ring.
Cavaliers 3-Point shooting vs. Warriors 3-Point shooting
The Warriors made this shot cool but the Cavaliers have mastered the game as well as they have. The three point can turn blowouts into close games and close games into blowouts and both teams have utilized it to perfection. But with identical shooting percentages over the course of the regular season, no team will really be out of a game before the final buzzer. Which team can drain more from downtown has the potential to decide this year’s Finals.
Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James
As I mentioned earlier, Durant will be called on to face LeBron time and time again. But this really goes both ways. Durant himself is a former MVP and 8 time All-Star himself and can not be lost in the long list of names on Golden State’s honor roll. And with Durant revving up for revenge after his 2012 loss to LeBron in the Finals, James is without a doubt going to have his hands full defensively this time around after only dealing with Iguodala and Harrison Barnes in years past.
In the end, this year’s Finals is nearly guaranteed for a historically exciting series. Warriors-Cavs is the modern days 1990s Bulls-Jazz, this generation’s 1980s Celtics-Lakers. There is just something about rivalries that brings cities together and few have been as massive as this one.
Now the question is, who’s bringing it home?
There is no doubt this is series is going into 6 or even 7 games. That’s one thing everyone can agree on. Friends, fans, and experts alike are all nearly split on this one. So here are our official predictions from your friends at Sporting Daily.
Finals MVP: Kevin Durant
Champion: Warriors in 6
I can not overlook the Warriors absolute absurd amount of talent and how they have all fit together has been stellar. LeBron is going to carry this Cavs team on his back and we can expect Kyrie and Love to bring their finest but a core of Durant-Curry-Thompson-Green feels too unstoppable for me. With both teams being relatively unchallenged this entire playoffs, it’s hard to tell how they will fare against elite opponents but I think the Warriors simply have too many weapons, both offensively and defensively for Cleveland to keep up with. And Kevin Durant finally gets his revenge on LeBron James by winning Finals MVP in a series where he outduels him across the board.
Finals MVP: Tristan Thompson
Winner: Cavs in 6
Someone that hasn’t performed at a high level is going to win the Finals MVP. Tristan Thompson is that man. Averaging 9.3 rebounds and 9.2 points per game this postseason, and he’s a force to be reckoned with in the paint. The Warriors are going to be hell-bent on defending the Big Three of Cleveland, leaving a player like Thompson to reap the benefits. The Cavaliers are a much better basketball team with more depth and LeBron James. Any team with LeBron is going to challenge for a title no matter what.
Finals MVP: Kevin Durant
Champion: Golden State Warriors in 7 Games
I think that the Warriors are just too strong for Lebron James & Co. LeBron is by far the best player in this series, but he does not have the supporting cast that the Warriors have. Curry, Durant, Green, and Thompson overpower Irving, Love, and James. The Warriors bench is much better than that of Cleveland, but playing in Cleveland is tough. The Cavs will steal a few games against the Warriors but ultimately fall