So, Golden State and Cleveland meet again.
For the first time in history, the NBA Finals matchup will be the same for a third straight year. There has been little doubt the two teams would wind up in the Finals, but both teams dominated their conferences in order to face off.
The Warriors were the 2015 NBA Finals champions and the Cavaliers are the 2016 Finals champs.
This will be a star-studded Finals, with seven All-Stars on the two rosters. We have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for Cleveland, and Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for the Warriors. So, this should be the series all NBA fans are hungry for.
Looking forward, the Cavaliers will need continued excellence from James, who carried Cleveland through its first 13 games. Obviously, James is the best player in the league and arguably the best player to play the game. He is not a man to be taken lightly and with the two teams with one win each, this should be an epic fight for which team takes 2 of the 3.
Expect some chippiness from both sides. While some players have downplayed the rivalry, the style of James is intimidation. And, our beloved Draymond Green is probably one of the best trash talkers in the league.
While both franchises have All-Star studded teams, the Warriors have an advantage when it comes to depth and versatility. Remember when these two teams met back in 2015, the MVP was not Curry or Thompson. It was Andre Iguodala. He will be under the same level of pressure that he was in that series, because he will draw the assignment of holding off James for large chunks of each game.
One of the concerns about the Cavs’ defense is its inability to stop the transition scoring. While they’ve reduced it significantly in the playoffs, it is likely a reflection of the weak teams they faced. On the other hand, the bulk of Golden State’s possessions and scoring come off the fast break. Not only are they capable of getting to the rim in those situations, they have a knack for knocking down transition 3s. The Cavaliers will have to keep the Warriors in the half-court as much as possible.
My NBA Series prediction:
The Warriors weak link is probably going to be Game one. Coming off significant rest, the Dubs have struggled to shake the rust during the first quarter. If the Warriors cannot hit shots early and control the tempo early on, the Cavs could theoretically steal game one. And, LeBron James alone will likely pull off one win completely on his own dynamic play. However, the Warriors have a deeper roster and with KD in the mix, the Warriors should come off with the championship. Warriors in 6.
NBA Finals 2017 on ABC:
- Game 1: June 1 | 9:00 PM ET
- Game 2: June 4 | 8:00PM ET
- Game 3: June 7 | 9:00 PM ET
- Game 4: June 9 | 9:00 PM ET
- Game 5: June 12 | 9:00 PM ET*
- Game 6: June 15 | 9:00 PM ET*
- Game 7: June 18 | 8:00 PM ET*
- *If necessary
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- Warriors Championship image from NBA.com
- LeBron James on Flickr 1 & 2 by Keith Allison
- Kyrie Irving on Flickr by Erik Drost
- Kevin Love on Flickr by Keith Allison
- Kevin Durant on kevindurant.com
- Steph Curry on Flickr by Keith Allison
- Klay Thompson image on flickr by Keith Allison
- Draymond Green posted on Flickr by Keith Allison
- Andre Iguodala on flickr by Keith Allison