Warrriiioorrss come out and ppllllaayy…. and with the help of LeBron James the NBA Finals has its first trilogy. It was predicted since the start of the long NBA season that had its ups and down concerning viewership. However this is what the NBA fans predicted, more importantly this is what they wanted. The Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Golden State Warriors for the third straight year.
The Eastern Conference Cavaliers’ 12-1 record this postseason and Western Conference Warriors who were a perfect 12-0 in the postseason with nine days off leading up to Game 1. The Warriors won part one while the Cavaliers were without Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers won part two defeating the Warriors who had a 3-1 series lead to claim the franchise’s first championship. Part trois has a big twist; the addition of Kevin Durant on the Warriors. It will be great theater when James and Durant go face to face. With all due respect that is what it will come down to however let me share some points before my prediction.
Collectively two super teams who are hyped on both sides. The hype is real. Let’s begin with the Cavaliers who are led by the determination from James. He is making his seventh trip to the Finals, already has been crowned as the league’s all-time leader in playoff points and is leading the Cavaliers toward back-to-back titles for “The Land.” Cleveland added pieces Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and Derrick Williams around James.
The Warriors are determined to get back what slipped through their hands last season, the Larry O’Brien Trophy. These past three seasons have been a run many find puzzling with a 2015 championship, a back-to-back MVP winner in Stephen Curry, a 73-9 season without a ring, then KD falling right in their lap in the offseason. Draymond Green of the Warriors has spoken very loudly on behalf of his teammates saying the Cavaliers are the team they hoped to rematch in the NBA Finals. Durant missed 21 games but the Warriors finished 16 games better than the Cavs. Javale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Matt Barnes will all help with the Warriors front line. There is no coincidence former twice fired Cleveland coach Mike Brown is filling in for the Warriors’ Steve Kerr.
Quick reminder Stephen Curry is still on the Warriors team. He came alive when Durant was out for 21 games in the regular season. The X factor for them will be Klay Thompson who will be assigned to Uncle Drew aka Kyrie Irving. Lacking the offensive depth on the Warriors bench, Thompson will be the third and fourth option pending Cavs coach Tyronn Lue’s defensive strategy on Durant and Curry. With Durant as the primary scorer, Thompson’s touches have been affected. During the season, Thompson shot 32.5 percent and averaged 11 points in the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio.
For the Cavs, Uncle Drew getting buckets and Tristan Thompson being the go-to guy to extend plays add second-chance points for a Cavs team that cannot risk giving up transition points to the Warriors. Kevin Love will be a factor for the Cavs if he is not lost in the offense early. James will get him involved.
In this corner we have Kevin Durant and in the opposite corner we have LeBron James. Both have met in the finals before dating back to the 2012 showdown between Oklahoma City and Miami. James and Miami won the series in five. They both have added respect to their names this time around. They both may not guard each other for a full 40 minutes to save energy, but Durant needs James as much as his first NBA title.
Durant left an Oklahoma City Thunder team that was one win away from going to the NBA Finals. A finals win over the best player in the NBA will lower the sounds of the critics. Losing this finals will be humble pie served. Served by LeBron James who is in his seventh straight finals, and with this win can actually put him face to face with Michael Jordan who he passed as the all-time career playoff scoring leader. It is a contest James can’t win when the comparisons are raised, but this series win will surely help in the argument.
For my prediction, I am flipping a coin on this one. Tails says, King James’ unparalleled determination, Cavaliers in seven.